What is Included in the Medical Exam?

12 December 2020
Chief Brent Collins, President, www.FirePrep.com

What is included in the medical exam?

The medical exam itself is nothing to be afraid of.  It will be just like any other thorough physical exam.  The doctor may be on the staff of the hiring agency or someone outside the department with his or her own practice, just like your own doctor.  Your blood pressure, temperature, weight, and so on will be measured; your heart and lungs will be listened to and your limbs examined.  The doctor will peer into your eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and conduct a thorough medical exam, possibly including a stress test.  You'll also have to donate some blood and urine.  Because of these tests, you won't know the results of the physical exam right away.  You'll probably be notified in writing in a few weeks, after the test results come in.

Some departments have vision and/or weight requirements.  Typically, the vision requirements are 20/40.  If you wear glasses and your vision is outside the 20/40 limit, you will not be able to pass the eye exam.  Make sure you find out if contacts are acceptable to meet those requirements; in either case, you may want to seriously consider Lasix surgery to correct your vision to 20/20.

You can’t weight 275 pounds and expect to get hired by a fire department.  Some departments will use a body fat composition to determine your eligibility. 

If the department is part of a state and fire pension plan, the municipality will have to meet the standards required by that retirement system; for example, you can’t have high blood pressure.

Drug Testing

A test for use of illegal drugs can be administered before a conditional offer of employment.  Because firefighters have to be in tiptop physical shape, and because they are in a position of public trust, the fire department expects you to be drug-free.  Indeed, you may have to undergo drug testing periodically throughout your career as a firefighter.

Good luck in your pursuit of the greatest job on the face of the earth!  Remember – luck goes to the prepared!