New Medical/Physical Standards for Frederick County Firefighters

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By Andrew D. Marsh

Frederick County Department of Fire/Rescue Services did not have medical/physical standards for its firefighters beyond the most basic medical examination required of all county employees. The purpose of this paper was to investigate medical/physical standards for firefighters and to evaluate new medical/physical standards for Frederick County firefighters.

The methodology used included a literature review of the relevant literature in the National Fire Academy's (NFA) Learning Resource Center ((LRC) and in the library of the Frederick County Department of Fire/Rescue Services. Current national and jurisdictional medical/physical standards were also reviewed. Subsequently, the new medical/physical standards for Frederick County were evaluated. Evaluative research was used to answer the following questions:

  1. What medical/physical standards currently exist at the national, jurisdictional, and local levels?
  2. Should a physical agility test be included in medical/physical standards for incumbent firefighters?
  3. What is the current medical/physical health of firefighters in Frederick County, and what are the physical agility test results to date for Frederick County firefighters?
  4. What are the new medical/physical standards for Frederick County firefighters?

Procedures involved comparing and contrasting various medical/physical standards and applying them to Frederick County's fire/rescue services.

The results revealed that firefighter medical/physical standards must be the same for the incumbents and new hires alike. Jurisdictions must establish and ensure minimum physical requirements that are job-related and necessary for efficient performance of firefighter duties. Additionally, the results indicated that Frederick County's new firefighter medical/physical standards, including physical agility test, compared favorably with the national and jurisdictional standards surveyed. Finally, Frederick County should consider implementing a physical fitness program to promote firefighter wellness.

It was recommended that Frederick County continue with implementation of its new medical/physical standards that are the same for new hires and incumbents alike.