Fire Fighters Protest Physical Exam Ruling Before Borough Hall

May 14, 1994

Fire Fighters Protest Physical Exam Ruling Before Borough Hall

There wasn’t a whiff of smoke in the air, but about a dozen firefighters in full gear came to Borough Hall Friday morning. Their aim was to tell the Borough to drop its idea of periodic physicals for Fire Department members and, in general, to keep its hands off the department.

Borough Administrator Tom Shannon came out of his office onto Borough Hall plaza to talk with the assembled men, who had been brought together by Councilman Ray Wadsworth, a volunteer fire fighter. They spoke in the shadow of several fire engines that had been brought to the plaza.

It was Mr. Shannon’s recommendation that the fire fighters undergo periodic annual physicals that brought out the wrath of the department at a recent Council meeting.

The trucks here today show one thing — the Fire Department is very interested in seeing the Board of Engineers have more power back, and not having the department run from above,” said one fireman. This goes for more than the issue at hand. It goes to the running of the department.”

The Board of Engineers is composed of the fire chiefs, departmental officers, and other volunteers.

Mr. Shannon told the fire fighters that he wants to meet with members of the department to see if a compromise can be reached on the issue of the physicals.

After the discussion, Mr. Shannon said he had met with the fire chiefs early last week, and they had helped him with his original proposal. He plans to meet with the Board of Engineers in late May or June to further discuss his recommendations. He would then

… bring his proposal back to Borough Council for consideration. In addition to recommending that fire fighters be given periodic annual physicals, Mr. Shannon wants the exams to be given by a Borough physician. Each physical costs approximately $300. Fire fighters have strongly objected to this request, as well. “For the last couple of years, they [Borough officials] have wanted to run the department, and have given us regulations we haven’t had,” said Tom Johnson, a long-time volunteer fire fighter. “We haven’t had any problem of anyone hurt in a fire. No other volunteer fire department in the country has these requirements for physicals.”

He said that most of the 150 members of the Fire Department have physicals every year. And he suggested that the. Borough should examine the expense of spending $300 for every physical.

“We’re all looking to save taxpayers’ money,” said Mr. Johnson. “We’re taxpayers too.”

– Myrna K. Bearse

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