Legal Review of Firefighter Physical Ability Tests


Unit VI touches on two topics that can be contentious: physical fitness and Critical Incident Stress Management (CSIM).  A fire department wellness program goes beyond physical fitness to encompass mental health.  Things such as pre employment physical agility testing, annual physical agility testing, pre employment medical screening, annual medical screening, daily physical fitness programs, CSIM, employee assistance programs, and others all create a fire department wellness program.  Well-developed wellness programs can reduce firefighter illness and injury.  These programs can be the difference between long employee tenure and high turnover rates.
  • Does your department’s pre employment physical agility test have any components that would be discriminatory to anyone who does not have knowledge of the job?  Would the tasks in the test exclude any group of people without a sound reason for the exclusion?
  • Mental health has long been swept under the rug.  What does your department do to help ensure that firefighters have the proper mental health options when needed?  Is there any legal responsibility for a fire department to provide for the mental health of firefighters?
This unit covered topics that have caused legal issues for fire departments as well as an area that has long been overlooked.  As we all learn and grow from past mistakes, it is every firefighter’s responsibility to help ensure that those mistakes are not repeated in the future.
Below are three questions to help guide you as you write about whether the image on the cube mimics the psychological demands imposed by the conditions under which an individual would be asked to perform as part of the essential functions of a firefighter. Each task that is being performed in the image for a firefighter in real life would be timed with a cut-off score, and failure to complete the task within the allotted time would result in disqualification.
  • Does the activity in the image legally discriminate against any applicant’s abilities to perform the tasks?
  • Does the activity provide the best indication of how an applicant will physically perform the duties on the actual job?
  • Will the activities withstand a lawsuit based on content validity because the test replicates the actual job?
On your paper, use headings to identify the side of the cube you are discussing. For instance, on side one of the cube, use the title “Penetrating a Door” as seen on the slide’s title. Your response should be at least 200 words in length. Once you have completed all six of your writings, go back and refer to, summarize, paraphrase, or quote at least one or two sentences from another source to support your discussion for each side of the cube. You should use at least three different references in your text.

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