I have to ask this question and this is why. Last night we had our yearly department physicals. We ran the gambit of fit testing, the breathing test, eye exam, hearing test, EKG and physical exam.
Everything went as normal for me, I filled out the normal papers and then I started going through the stations. Vision which was pretty normal, oh yes they asked for a urine sample. Nothing serious they just check and make sure there are no abnormalities in it. Did my hearing test, it was painless. Then the dreaded fit test. It really isn’t all that bad but, this year it seems that I had to readjust my mask something like 5 times. Well it seems that I have lost weight (which I knew I had), it seems this weight loss has caused it so that I may need to get an even smaller mask. I wear a small now, so I will have to go to an extra small if I have problems. I did finally pass the fit test. I then went to the breathing test and that one I truly hate. Having to blow 3 times into a machine till you just about pass out is a killer. Now I know what you have to go thru when they want a breathalyzer when you get pulled over for a DWI, LOL. Next was the EKG, this was easy and nothing out of the ordinary there. The nurse took my blood pressure and pulse because that wasn’t done yet. Blood pressure was a little high, but I was laying on my back for the EKG and I hadn’t had dinner as of yet. Last but not least, the physical. It is painless. She checked my heart and listened to my lungs. Normal as I suspected. The PA finished and she checked my other test and said that everything was good. She said that my high pitch hearing is not good and asked if it was affecting my job performance or if I noticed anything. I said no. She asked if I had eaten today, I said breakfast and that was it. Then my blood pressure was taken. I was asked what it is normally and I told her the last one taken, which was just a week before was 118/68. It ended up being 120/68 which is really good for me. The PA stated that my blood pressure was high when the nurse took but she was happy it went down. So was I. No big deal. I passed my physical.
This is where my question comes in. The PA then says that this is where she gives her big speech. I am 42 and I have been an interior firefighter for 17+ years. She says to me that I should start thinking about becoming an exterior firefighter. I was like, “What?” She said that I am getting older and really should think about the fact that I don’t need to be interior anymore at my age. I told her I would think about it.
I did think about it on the way home from the firehouse and this is what I said. “Hell no, I am going to be interior till I am physically unable to do it anymore. I am more than capable and unless a doctor says otherwise I am not changing that status.” I have to say I don’t see myself as old.
This was a complete blow to me. I can see saying “hey, I can’t pass you to be interior because of the test results, but I can clear you for exterior.” That is fine. I guess she feels she needs to make the suggestion.
Don’t get me wrong, one thing for sure I am out of shape and overweight (not by a huge amount but still over weight). I have lost 22 pounds finally. I was 225 and am now 203. I am very proud of that, it has taken a long time to lose that weight. I am using the treadmill and doing everything I can to get back into shape. I feel much better already with just that. Keeping myself in shape and healthy is a big thing. I think unless you fail the interior part of the physical and the doctor says you can’t do this part anymore. They aren’t going to pass you for interior if you fail that part of the physical. At least the group we use wont.
So, I guess what I am asking is this. What age should you as an interior firefighter think about changing to an exterior firefighter? Just wondering what you all think…