Department Awarded for Keeping Firefighters Safe & Healthy
On Tuesday, June 27, Tom Piocquidio, Worksite Medical’s vice president of sales, presented the North Hampton Fire Department with a bronze firefighter flag after its firefighters, along with dozens of others in the township, completed their NFPA 1582 medical testing.
It took only two days for over 70 firefighters across five Pittsburgh area departments – Hampton, North Hampton, Ingomar, Peebles and Highland — to become NFPA 1582 compliant. For convenience purposes, the departments worked collectively with Worksite Medical to ensure that everyone could be tested in a timely and efficient manner.
With nearly half of all firefighter fatalities occurring as a result of medical emergencies, John Schwend, now in his ninth year as North Hampton fire chief, knew that it was essential to institute a proper medical surveillance program.
“Firefighter safety is paramount,” Schwend said. “We [had] two fire ground incidents in this township in the last 15 years involving heart attacks, so it’s important for us to make sure that everybody is fit for duty.”
More than just 1582 compliance
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) created NFPA 1582 to support firefighter health and safety. The requirements of the standard include items such as: a physical examination, chest- x-ray, and cancer screening. Furthermore, OSHA requires that in any workplace where respirators are necessary to protect the health of the employee, the employer must develop and implement a written respiratory protection program, which includes respirator-use clearance and fit testing for tight-fitting respirators.
Jim Harsh, chief operating officer at Worksite Medical, spent nearly three decades working as an industrial safety professional. He explained that keeping firefighters within NFPA 1582 and OSHA guidelines goes far beyond compliance.
“When it comes to firefighters, you’re talking about people who are volunteers,” Harsh said. “They’re putting themselves at risk to keep their communities safe. We’re thinking about their safety, and their families. That’s why what we do is so important.”
After working with another medical provider in the past, Schwend explained that Worksite Medical, which performed all required testing onsite, was a better overall fit for his firehouse.
“For the low cost and the ease of working with Worksite Medical, it’s definitely worth the value,” Schwend said. “We tried another provider in the past, and Worksite was much more efficient. They were easy to deal with and friendly throughout the whole process. They gave me the results in a timely manner, which is important.”
As for sustaining the program, the chief is all in.
“We’ll be definitely work with them in the future,” he added. “There’s nothing more important than keeping the guys safe.”