NVFC Adopts Position Supporting Firefighter Physicals

Posted by Steve Lumry on 10/11/2016


The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Board of Directors adopted a position during its recent fall meeting to support medical assessments for all firefighters.

Firefighters are at increased risk for many health concerns, including heart attack and cancer. Protecting the health and safety of firefighters is a critical part of the NVFC’s mission. Keeping firefighters healthy is also essential to the protection of citizens and property in our communities. Annual physicals can help identify health risks or conditions early and prevent tragedies.

“Oftentimes the symptoms of diseases and disease risk factors aren’t evident until it is too late,” said NVFC Chair Kevin D. Quinn. “Medical assessments help identify these conditions early so that tragedy can be prevented. By knowing what risk factors you face and by detecting diseases at an early stage, our nation’s emergency responders have a much better chance for a positive outcome.”

Quinn is a prime example of why medical assessments are important. Although he strives to be healthy by eating right and exercising, he was unaware of an underlying heart condition as there were no outlying symptoms. In July, Quinn and NVFC staff member Dave Finger traveled to Cherryville, NC, at the invitation of Chief Jeff Cash to learn more about the Cherryville Fire Department’s annual firefighter physical program. It was thanks to this medical evaluation that Quinn’s heart condition was detected and the necessary heart bypass surgery was conducted.

“Heart disease and cancer are the leading killers of our nation’s firefighters,” Quinn said. “I may have become a statistic if it had not been for the firefighter physical I received in Cherryville. I can honestly say I owe my life to this early detection. I strongly encourage all department leaders to implement an annual medical assessment program as a critical component of your health and safety initiatives.”

The NVFC’s position identifies four types of physicals a department may consider. Read full position statement here.