On the path to becoming a firefighter, people often wonder if there are certain conditions or medical issues that will prevent them from getting their dream job. Firefighting can be a physically strenuous and difficult job that requires a certain level of fitness and abilities. However, there are people who do amazing things that have disabilities! What kind of conditions will keep you from getting hired as a firefighter?
While some disabilities will prevent you from becoming a firefighter, many others will not affect your ability to get hired. It all comes down to your ability to safely and efficiently perform all the essential job tasks of a firefighter. Each department will make its own hiring decisions.
While each fire department will make its own final decision about who is fit to be a firefighter and who they want to hire, in the US, there are some standards that are used to decide if a candidate can safely be a firefighter. Below we will talk about these standards. We will also look at a variety of specific conditions and their effect on becoming a firefighter.
Note: None of the information in this article is medical advice, I am just breaking down the information found in NFPA 1582 for reader convenience.
Firefighter Medical Standards: NFPA 1582
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) creates standards for all aspects of the fire service in the US. These standards are not mandated, but they are adopted as best practices by most fire departments.
When it comes to making decisions about who is medically and physically fit to be a firefighter, NFPA 1582 – Standard on Comprehensive Occupational Medical Program for Fire Departments is the guidelines that most fire departments use.
These guidelines outline 14 essential job tasks that you must be able to perform safely in order to work as a firefighter. A summary of these essential job tasks are:
- While wearing full firefighting gear (PPE), perform firefighting tasks, rescue operations, and emergency response operations under stressful conditions, including hot and cold exposure.
- Ability to wear a positive pressure SCBA and tolerate increased respiratory workloads
- Exposure to toxic and infectious substances and heated gases
- Climb 6+ flights of stairs with full gear (50 pounds) plus tools (20-40 pounds)
- Wear full firefighting gear and tolerate the significant fluid loss and dehydration, as well as core temperature above 102.2 Fahrenheit (39 C)
- Working alone in full gear performing search and rescue, carrying victims up to 165 pounds while in hazardous, low visibility conditions
- In full gear, pull hose-lines approximately 150 feet, upstairs, ladders and other obstacles
- In full gear, climb ladders, operate at heights, crawl in the dark in narrow or on uneven surfaces that are wet or icy, and operate near electrical power lines and other hazards
- Unpredictable extreme physical exertion without warm-up, scheduled rest, meals, medications or hydration
- Operate fire apparatus with lights and sirens
- Time-sensitive, problem-solving during physical exertion, in stressful, hot, dark, hazardous, tightly enclosed space, made more difficult by fatigue and distractions
- Ability to communicate in full gear with background noise, poor visibility and large amounts of water from suppression efforts
- Function as part of a team, where sudden incapacitation of a member can cause injury or death to crew or the public
- Working shifts over 12 hours, including at night
Note: Each fire department will decide which of these essential job tasks apply to their department and will make the final decision of the specific requirements for their firefighters.
NFPA 1582 also lists a large number of specific medical conditions under either Category A or Category B.
- Category A conditions are recommended by the NFPA to automatically disqualify the candidate (unless they meet the specific criteria set forth for that condition).
- Category B conditions are recommended by the NFPA to pass the medical evaluation, as long as they can perform all 14 essential job tasks safely.
In the rest of this article, we will examine some common conditions and there effect on becoming a firefighter, using NFPA 1582 standards.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Epilepsy?
It is possible to be a firefighter with epilepsy, but many may not be allowed to do so for safety reasons. Epilepsy is an NFPA 1582 Category A condition, which means you must meet all the criteria set forth in the standard to qualify for a firefighter position.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Epilepsy is a disorder affecting the central nervous system. This condition causes seizures (a sudden electrical disturbance in your brain, resulting in a period of unconsciousness, convulsions, or change in behavior) that occur chronically and is usually managed with medication.
We can see the effect this could have if we imagine a firefighter driving a fire engine or rescuing someone from a fire having a seizure. It becomes apparent that this could greatly affect the safety and lives of the firefighter, their coworkers, and the public.
So, the NFPA will require anyone who has epilepsy that wants to be a firefighter to pass 4 criteria. They are:
- No seizures in the last 10 years
- No seizure medications for the last 5 years or on a stable protocol of seizure medication with no side effects that affect the ability to perform the 14 essential job task (listed above) for the past 5 years
- Normal neurological exam
- A definitive statement from a neurological specialist that the candidate meets the above criteria and is clear for firefighting training and work, and can perform all essential job tasks
As you can see, the criteria is fairly strict and many may not be able to pass, but if you are able to meet all these, then you should be able to pass the medical exam and become a firefighter.
For those with epilepsy or other seizure disorders, CBD (Cannabidiol), which is a compound found in the marijuana plant, but does not make you “high”, has been studied and found to have possible benefits for epilepsy and seizure disorders. The FDA recently approved a CBD based medication called Epidiolex for seizure disorders.
If you want to try CBD, I recommend Omnia Naturals. It is a company that sells CBD products and was started by firefighters from Florida.
Here is some more information about CBD and epilepsy/seizures:
- CBD and Epilepsy | Epilepsy Foundation
- CBD Oil for Treating Epilepsy | U.S. News – US News Health
- Use of Cannabidiol in the Treatment of Epilepsy
- CBD and Epilepsy: A Promising Treatment – CURE Epilepsy
- Treating Epilepsy with CBD Oil – TMC News
- Epilepsy & Seizures | Project CBD
Can You Be a Firefighter with Type 1 Diabetes?
You may be allowed to be a firefighter with type-1 diabetes if you meet all the criteria set forth by NFPA 1582. You will also need to prove that you can perform all the essential job functions.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Type-1 Diabetes is a condition where your pancreas does not any or enough insulin, which is needed for sugar in your blood to enter the cells so it can be used for energy. This is also sometimes referred to as insulin-dependent diabetes.
NFPA 1582 requires those with Type-1 Diabetes to meet the following criteria to become a firefighter:
- Maintained by a doctor who is knowledgable in current management of diabetes on a basal/bolus regimen, which can include subcutaneous insulin infusion pump using insulin analogs
- Demonstrate over 6 months or more the motivation and understanding required to monitor and control capillary blood glucose through nutritional therapy and insulin administration
- Has a dilated retinal exam by a qualified ophthalmologist or optometrist that shows no higher grade of diabetic retinopathy microaneurysms, indicated on the international clinical diabetic retinopathy disease severity scale
- Normal renal function based on a calculated creatinine clearance greater than 60ml/min and absence of proteinuria
- No peripheral or autonomic neuropathy
- Normal cardiac function without evidence of myocardial ischemia on cardiac stress testing (to at least 12 MET) by ECG and cardiac imaging
- Signed statement and medical records from an endocrinologist who understands the essential job tasks and hazards of firefighting, allowing the department doctor to determine if the candidate meets all necessary criteria
The department doctor will evaluate the candidate’s treatment, A1C level, hypoglycemia risk, make sure they have had no hypoglycemia episodes in the last year, and is able to perform all firefighting job tasks.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Autism?
You may or may not be allowed to be a firefighter with autism. Since Autism is a spectrum, it really depends on the severity. NFPA 1582 does not specifically restrict those with autism from being firefighters, however, some of the essential job tasks may not be possible for those with autism.
According to WebMd.com, Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a category of conditions affecting communication, behavior, and learning. The symptoms can vary greatly depending on the severity of the condition.
While those with most with severe (low-functioning) autism will not be able to perform the essential job tasks of a firefighter (listed above), someone with less severe (high-functioning) autism may have no issues.
Some of the tasks required of firefighters that may be difficult include: working as a team, effective communication, and rapid changes to environment and responsibilities. Though these may not pose an issue for many.
Can You Be a Firefighter with ADHD?
There is nothing specifically preventing those with ADHD from becoming a firefighter. However, like all candidates, you will have to show that you can perform all the essential job tasks of a firefighter.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD stands for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and affects one’s ability to focus and control impulsive behaviors.
Since there is nothing disqualifying those with ADHD from becoming firefighters, just make sure that the condition doesn’t prevent you from being able to perform the essential job tasks (listed above) and you should be good.
I have heard that people with ADHD seem to respond well and perform their best under stress. If this is the case for you, it may actually be an asset as a firefighter.
The other thing to consider is medication. If you take medications for ADHD, you need to be sure that it doesn’t stop you from becoming a firefighter as central acting antihypertensive agents (clonidine) and sedative-hypnotics (Xanax/alprazolam) are prohibited by NFPA 1582 (Category A).
Stimulants (methylpenidate/Ritalin/Concerta, dexmethylpenidate/Focalin, dextroamphetamine/Adderall) and other psychiatric medications are NFPA 1582 Category B, which means you can take them, as long as you can prove that you can still perform all the essential job tasks.
Can You Be a Firefighter with One Kidney?
Having only one kidney will usually not affect your ability to become a firefighter. NFPA 1582 does not specifically disqualify those with only one kidney. You will just need to prove you can perform all essential job tasks.
According to Kidney.org, there are three reasons that a person might have only one kidney: they were born with only one kidney (renal agenesis), they had one kidney removed due to injury or cancer, or they donated one of their kidneys to someone else.
Kidney Health Australia says that a person with only one kidney can have up to 75% of the kidney function of someone with two kidneys, as it can increase in size to increase function. They also state that most people with one kidney lead normal healthy lives.
NFPA 1582 does disqualify some other kidney-related issues, such as: renal failure, peritoneal dialysis, and chronic kidney disease stage 4 or greater. But those are usually unrelated to having only one kidney.
Can You Be a Firefighter with HIV?
There is nothing in NFPA 1582 that would specifically disqualify those with HIV from becoming a firefighter. As long as it is treated and you are able to perform all the essential job tasks, it should not prevent you from becoming a firefighter.
HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus. According to the CDC, HIV is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system and it’s ability to fight off other diseases. It does this by destroying the T-cells and can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome) if not treated.
There is also a possibility that a medication used to treat HIV will be prohibited by NFPA 1582, so you can reference the policy direction for more information. Like every other firefighter candidate, you will just need to show that you can safely perform all the essential job tasks (listed above) of a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Arthritis?
Your ability to be a firefighter with arthritis will depend since there are so many types of arthritis with different causes and symptoms. If you are able to perform all the essential job tasks and don’t have any significant range of motion limitations, you should be able to become a firefighter.
Healthline.com says Arthritis is simply the inflammation of the joints and there are over 100 different types of arthritis. It can cause pain, swelling, and stiffness to the affected joints, and sometimes will affect the joint’s range of motionSo, can you be a firefighter with Arthritis?
The only type of arthritis directly mentioned in NFPA 1582 is Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and it is a Category B condition. This means they will still let you become a firefighter with this condition, if you can safely perform all the essential job tasks (listed above).
NFPA 1582 also puts significant limitation of function to the upper body joints and lack of full function of the lower body joints as Category B conditions.
Many people with arthritis will still be able to become firefighters, as long as it doesn’t affect their ability to safely do the job.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)?
You may be allowed to become a firefighter with A-Fib. NFPA 1582 classifies A-Fib as a Category B condition, meaning it will not prevent you from becoming a firefighter if you show that you can perform all the essential job tasks. However, if you are on blood-thinning medication, you may be disqualified.
According to the American Heart Association, Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib) is an abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) where the heart “quivers” instead of beating normally. This may come in short episodes or be constant. They say this can cause an increased risk for stroke, blood clots, and heart failure.
So, while the Atrial Fibrillation may not directly prevent you from becoming a firefighter, your treatment might. However, not all patients with A-Fib are treated with blood thinners. Your doctor will advise you on how to best treat the condition.
If you are not required to be on a blood-thinning medication (defined by NFPA 1582 as any anticoagulant medication or other medication that prolongs prothrombin time (PT), partial thromboplastin time (PTT), or international normalized ratio (INR)) or Beta-adrenergic blocking medication, and you are able to perform all the essential job functions of a firefighter (listed above), Atrial Fibrillation should not preclude you from getting hired as a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)?
You can be a firefighter with hypertension (high blood pressure). However, NFPA 1582 will disqualify you if the high blood pressure is uncontrolled, poorly controlled, there is evidence it has caused end-organ damage, or it requires you to take NFPA prohibited medications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Hypertension is blood pressure that is above the normal range. Blood pressure is the force exerted by your blood against your arteries. The normal blood pressure is less than 120mmHg systolic and less than 80mmHg diastolic (less than 120/80).
NFPA 1582 does not specifically label high blood pressure as a disqualifying condition. It does label uncontrolled hypertension and organ damage caused by hypertension as Category A, which means they recommend you not passing the medical evaluation.
The other potential issue is medications. Since there are a variety of medications that can be used to treat hypertension, we need to be aware of which are allowed and which are not. NFPA 1582 lists Beta-adrenergic blocking agents (Beta-blockers) like Atenolol and Metoprolol, Central acting anti-hypertensive medications like Clonidine, high-dose diuretics like Furosemide and Spironolactone as Category A, which means they recommend those taking them not become firefighters.
However, there are many other medications used to treat high blood pressure, so you can work with your doctor and may be able to find a treatment option that doesn’t prevent you from becoming a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Scoliosis?
You can be a firefighter with scoliosis unless is it is severe. NFPA 1582 lists severe scoliosis as a Category A condition, so you will be disqualified. However, if it is less severe, it is Category B and you will just have to show you can perform all the essential firefighter job tasks.
According to WebMD.com, Scoliosis is the sideways curvature of the spine greater than 10 degrees. The severity can vary and many times, doctors cannot find the cause. This can cause a person’s hips or shoulders to be uneven.
The way NFPA classifies Scoliosis is based on degrees of curvature in the spine. If the curvature is greater than 40 degrees, it is Category A and they recommend you be disqualified. If it is less than 40 degrees, it is Category B and you just have to prove you can perform all 14 essential job tasks as a firefighter to be medically approved for the job.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Sleep Apnea?
You can be a firefighter with Sleep Apnea as long as you meet the criteria set forth in NFPA 1582 and you are able to perform all 14 essential job tasks. There are many firefighters who suffer from this condition.
According to the Sleep Foundation, Sleep Apnea is a condition in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. There are two main types; obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. This condition can prevent restful sleep, causes low blood oxygen levels and can lead to hypertension, heart disease, and memory issues.
NFPA 1582 lists Obstructive Sleep Apnea with excessive daytime sleepiness as a Category A condition, which will prevent you from being a firefighter, unless you meet the following criteria:
- Successful treatment
- Documentation of compliance with CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) for a sleep study with the oral appliance or documentation of sleep study after surgery
- No excessive daytime sleepiness with treatment
If you meet all the above criteria, the condition will most likely be labeled as a Category B condition. This means that if you are able to safely perform all 14 essential job tasks (listed above), then you will be allowed to become a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter if You Are Bipolar?
You can be a firefighter if you are bipolar, as long as you meet all the criteria in NFPA 1582 and aren’t taking any of the prohibited medications.
According to Healthline.com, Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that causes extreme shifts in mood. It can alternate between periods of extremely elevated mood (mania), to periods of depression over weeks or months. It is also sometimes called manic depression.
NFPA 1582 classifies Bipolar disorder as a Category B condition (which will not prevent you from being a firefighter if you can safely perform all 14 essential job tasks(listed above)) if you you meet the following criteria:
- Compliance with indicated treatment
- No disqualifying side effects from treatment
- Treatment of co-morbidities including sleep disorders and substance abuse
- No suicide attempts in the past year
- No manic episodes in the past year
- Evaluation that the candidate’s condition does not interfere with the performance of his or her duties
The other aspect to be aware of is medications. If your treatment includes sedative-hypnotic medications like (Xanax/alprazolam) or central acting antihypertensive agents like (clonidine), you will not be able to become a firefighter, as those are listed as Category A medications. All other Psychiatric medications are Category B and won’t keep you from becoming a firefighter unless you are unable to perform the essential job tasks.
Can You Be a Firefighter with a Knee Replacement?
You can become a firefighter with a knee replacement, as long as you can meet all the criteria described in NFPA 1582, and you can perform all 14 essential job functions.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a knee-replacement or arthroplasty is a surgical procedure that involves cutting away damaged bone and cartilage and replacing it with an artificial (prosthetic) joint made of metals and plastics. This is most commonly performed to relieve knee pain caused by osteoarthritis.
NFPA 1582 lists any joint replacement procedures as a Category A (will prevent you from becoming a firefighter) unless you meet all of the following criteria:
- Normal range of motion with no history of dislocations since surgery
- Repetitive and prolonged pulling, bending, rotations, kneeling, crawling, climbing without pain or impairment
- No limiting pain
- Evaluation by an orthopedic specialist who concurs that the candidate can complete all 14 essential job tasks (listed above)
If you meet all these criteria and are able to demonstrate your ability to perform all the essential job tasks, you can become a firefighter with a knee (or any other joint) replacement.
Can You Be a Firefighter with STDs or STIs?
You can be a firefighter with an STD or STI. There is nothing in NFPA 1582 that specifically lists any STDs or STIs as prohibited conditions. If you are able to perform all the essential job tasks of a firefighter, you should be medically cleared to get hired.
According to Healthline.com, STD/STI stands for Sexually Transmitted Disease/Infection and is a category of infectious disease that can be spread through sexual activity.
There are a large number of STDs including Chlamydia, Herpes, Gonorrhea, Syphilis, HIV, and HPV. The symptoms and treatment vary based on each specific disease.
If the condition affects your ability to control your body temperature, hydration or nutritional status, requires treatment with Category A medications or keeps from being able to perform the essential job tasks (listed above), you may be prevented from becoming a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with a Bad Back?
Your ability to be a firefighter with a bad back will really depend. There are so many different reasons for a bad back, it’s hard to give a general answer. Some people with bad backs will still be able to become firefighters.
According to WebMD.com, back pain can be caused by a variety of different issues including herniated or bulging discs, spinal stenosis, spinal fractures, soft tissue sprains, strains or spasms, arthritis, scoliosis, and many others.
NFPA 1582 lists the following back conditions as Category A (which means they will prevent you from becoming a firefighter):
- Scoliosis of the Lumbar or Thoracic spine with an angle of greater than 40 degrees
- Any spinal or skeletal condition producing sensory or motor deficits or pain due to radiculopathy or nerve compression
- Any spinal or skeletal condition causing pain that frequently or recurrently requires narcotic analgesic medications
- Cervical vertebral fractures with multiple vertebral body compression greater than 25%, evidence of posterior element involvement, nerve root damage, disc involvement, dislocation, abnormal exam, ligament instability, symptomatic, less than 6-months post-injury or less than 1-year post-surgery
- Thoracic vertebral fractures with vertebral body compression greater than 50%, evidence of posterior element involvement, nerve root damage, disc involvement, dislocation, abnormal exam, ligament instability, symptomatic, less than 6-months post-injury or less than 1-year post-surgery
- Lumbosacral vertebral fractures with vertebral body compression greater than 50%, evidence of posterior element involvement, nerve root damage, disc involvement, dislocation, fragmentation, abnormal exam, ligament instability, symptomatic, less than 6-months post-injury or less than 1-year
- History of spinal surgery or injury that results in the candidate not being able to perform all the essential job tasks
NFPA 1582 lists the following back conditions as Category B (which means they will NOT prevent you from becoming a firefighter, as long as you can perform all the essential job tasks):
- Congenital or developmental malformations of the back, causing instability, neurological deficits, pain or limited flexibility
- Scoliosis with an angle less than 40 degrees
- Arthritis of the cervical, thoracic, or lumbosacral spine
- Facet Tropism, high lumbosacral angle, hyperlordosis, Schmorl’s nodes, Scheuermann’s disease, spina bifida occulta, spondylolisthesis, spondylosis, or transitional vertebrae
- History of infections or infarcts in the spinal cord, epidural space, vertebrae, axial skeletal joints
- History of diskectomy or laminectomy or vertebral fractures
As you can see, it will really depend on the cause and severity of your bad back as to whether or not you will still be able to become a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Glaucoma?
You will probably be allowed to be a firefighter with glaucoma. NFPA 1582 does not specifically prohibit those with glaucoma from being firefighters. If you are able to pass all the vision standards and safely perform all the essential job tasks, you should be able to become a firefighter,
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, Glaucoma is a disease that can damage the optic nerve in the eye. It is most commonly caused by excess fluid building up in the eye which increases pressure on the optic nerve.
While those with glaucoma are not specifically excluded from becoming firefighters, you will still need to pass the vision testing. The vision standards include:
- Far visual acuity better than 40/20 binocular, corrected with contacts or glasses, or far visual acuity better than 20/100 binocular for wearers of hard contacts or glasses or new soft contact wearers, uncorrected
- Color perception; Monochromatic vision resulting in the ability to use a thermal imaging camera
- Far visual acuity better than 20/100 in the worse eye corrected or uncorrected
- Monocular vision
- Peripheral vision in the horizontal median greater than 110 degrees in the better eye
- Near visual acuity better than 20/40 binocular, uncorrected or corrected
As long as you can pass the vision testing, Glaucoma should not affect your ability to become a firefighter.
For more information on firefighter vision standards, read: Do Firefighters Need Perfect Vision? Firefighter Vision Standards
Can Firefighters Be on Blood Thinners?
You cannot be a firefighter while taking most blood-thinning medications. NFPA 1582 specifically prohibits anyone taking these medications from becoming firefighters.
According to WebMD.com, Blood thinners are a type of medication that helps the blood to flow smoothly through the body and help to keep blood clots from forming or getting bigger. The two main types are anticoagulants and antiplatelets.
NFPA 1582 list “Full-dose or low-dose anticoagulant medication or other medication that prolongs prothrombin time (PT), partial thromboplastin time (PTT), or international normalized ratio (INR)” as Category A medications. This means that those taking these will most likely not be allowed to become firefighters by the NFPA.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis?
You can be a firefighter with Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis. NFPA 1582 will allow those with these conditions to become firefighters, as long as they can perform all the essential job tasks.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are both chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease can affect any part of the GI tract, whereas Ulcerative Colitis only occurs in the large intestine.
NFPA 1582 list inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS) as Category B conditions. This means that if you are able to show you can perform all 14 essential firefighter job tasks (listed above), they will allow you to become a firefighter.
Note: Both Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative Colitis are types of inflammatory bowel diseases.
Can You Be a Firefighter with COPD?
You may be able to be a firefighter with COPD. This will depend on your lung function testing results and the medical evaluation during the hiring process.
According to the Mayo Clinic, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) is a chronic lung disease that causes obstructive airflow from the lungs. Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis are the two most common types of COPD.
NFPA 1582 labels “obstructive lung diseases like emphysema, chronic bronchitis and asthma” as Category A conditions, which means they will not allow you to become a firefighter unless your lung testing shows FEV1/FVC above 70% and FVC above 80%. They also label emphysema as a Category A condition, regardless of lung function test results.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Dyslexia?
You can become a firefighter with dyslexia. There is nothing in NFPA 1582 prohibiting those with Dyslexia from becoming firefighters.
According to understood.org, Dyslexia is a learning disability that affects reading. It makes it hard to read at a good pace and can cause frequent mistakes. This affects reading comprehension, spelling, writing, and math.
The process of becoming a firefighter requires testing that can include reading and writing. If you have a documented learning or other disability, you may be able to get special assistance and accommodation with the testing process.
See this link for more information on firefighter testing help and accommodations.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Schizophrenia?
Whether or not you can be a firefighter with Schizophrenia will depend on how severe the condition is and if you are able to pass all the required criteria outlined in NFPA 1582.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, Schizophrenia is a mental condition that affects one’s ability to think clearly, handle emotions, relate to others, and make decisions. It can also cause hallucinations and delusions.
NFPA 1582 list Schizophrenia as a Category B condition (which means you can become a firefighter if you can show that you are able to perform all 14 essential job tasks (listed above)), if, after being evaluated by a qualified mental health care provider, you can pass the following criteria:
- Compliant with the indicated treatment
- No disqualifying side effects from the treatment
- Treatment of co-morbidities including substance-abuse and sleep disorders
- No psychotic symptoms in the past year
- No suicide attempts in the past year
- Evaluation that the candidate’s condition does not interfere with the performance of his or her duties
If you are able to pass all these criteria and safely perform all the essential job tasks, you should be medically qualified to become a firefighter.
Can You Be a Firefighter with Vertigo?
You probably can’t be a firefighter with vertigo. NFPA 1582 list chronic vertigo or impaired balance as a Category A condition, which means they will not recommend you becoming a firefighter.
NFPA 1582 states, “chronic vertigo or impaired balance as demonstrated by the inability to tandem gait walk.” They don’t specifically state what makes the condition chronic, so you may have to seek further clarification if this applies to you.
Those with disabilities of all types still may be able to follow through with their dreams of becoming firefighters. There are some conditions that will prevent some from becoming firefighters due to personal and public safety, but many others will not.
You can reference NFPA 1582 for more details on the medical qualifications to becoming a firefighter.
Note: None of the information in this article is medical advice, I am just breaking down the information found in NFPA 1582 for reader convenience.