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Richmond County firefighters must pass new test

Commission wants more controlled exam for veterans

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Prospective Augusta firefighters must pass a new physical test during the hiring process, and veterans will shape up or eventually be shipped out.

Augusta Commission approved the Certified Physical Agility Test to replace the test that has been the standard for recruits and pressed city officials to implement a test to ensure older firefighters are fit for the job. In addition, they voted to have City Administrator Fred Russell, Human Resources Director Rod Powell and Fire Chief Howard Willis come back before them with information about hiring one doctor to give firefighters annual physical checkups.

Firefighters currently are required to present a form from their doctor stating they are fit for the job, Willis said, but the commission wants a more controlled examination.

Commissioner Don Grantham said it was too easy for a firefighter to talk his doctor into filling out a checklist indicating he was fit and healthy enough to do the job.

The CPAT is essentially the same as the physical test that applicants must pass now, but it has been validated nationwide, instead of just in Georgia, Willis said.

Commissioner Bill Lockett said he had read an article stating that the CPAT was a good first start but that it did not go far enough.

"More than 40 percent of firefighters nationwide are overweight," he said. "Why require physical tests for trainees and not veteran firefighters?"

Willis said that he was working on a fitness program for veterans, and that there were already Weight Watchers, a wellness program and annualt tests.

"That is all part of the standards of training each firefighter has to go through each year," he said.

Questioned by Commissioner Alvin Mason about whether it was discriminatory to require one category of firefighters to pass a physical test and not all, Equal Employment Officer Jacqueline Humphries said, "You cannot do a fitness program for one and not for all."

Russell said Willis had just said they were trying to implement a program that would require all firefighters to pass a physical test.

Lockett suggested physical fitness be made a requirement for promotion.

"Basically, what the law says in these kinds of cases is first you give the written policy and explain it to folks, make sure they clearly understand it," Powell said. "Ultimately they understand the new criteria. Then they sign off acknowledging that as a new condition of employment going forward. That is the legal process in implementing a policy change."

Commissioner Joe Bowles said his concern is the same as Lockett's and Mason's.

"We've had a wellness program for employees for five years, and we've had nothing but negative results," he said.

"It's incumbent on this body here to set the standards for our fire department because obviously it's not being done."

In other action Tuesday

Recreation Director Tom Beck reported what had been done at one of the lakes at Diamond Lakes infested with lily pads and suspected of being contaminated.

Beck said his staff had gone into the pond in boats and tried to remove the lily pads, with limited success: "But what we have had success with is a chemical that is environmentally safe. It will take some time, but we hope in a couple of months, we will see results."

Garrett Weiss, the manager of the stormwater division of the city's engineering department, said he had collected samples from the pond and stormwater drain and did not find contamination.

Also, former Commissioner Andy Cheek warned the commission that the Augusta Canal diversion dam is critically in need of repairs and showed photos of deterioration that has occurred since 2005.

City Administrator Fred Russell said that the city will soon get its federal license for the dam and that when a fish ladder is installed, the contract will include repairs.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Asitisinaug
3
Points
Asitisinaug 08/04/10 - 02:04 am
0
0
Excellent new policy that was

Excellent new policy that was certainly needed.

iletuknow
7
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iletuknow 08/04/10 - 05:54 am
0
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Sitting around in those tax

Sitting around in those tax payer subsidized cushy easy chairs in front of the firehouse's 60" TVs after eating the fourth meal of the day has it's drawbacks.

travisp73
53
Points
travisp73 08/04/10 - 06:33 am
0
0
Cushy chairs and tvs?

Cushy chairs and tvs? Ignorance is sometimes cute, but most of the time its just sad.

travisp73
53
Points
travisp73 08/04/10 - 11:18 am
0
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Im all for a fitness test for

Im all for a fitness test for public safety.Now if they would just institute a competency test for the knuckleheads that reside in those cushy commission seats.....

momster59
0
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momster59 08/04/10 - 07:03 am
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iletyouknow - When you risk

iletyouknow - When you risk your life on a daily basis to save the lives and property of others you deserve a cushy chair while waiting to go out again to risk your life again.

LynxRHot
0
Points
LynxRHot 08/04/10 - 08:45 am
0
0
iletyouknow....you have no

iletyouknow....you have no clue what you are talking about. The firefighters work ALL DAY long in addition to running calls. Contrary to what you think, they do not sit on their tails and get paid for doing nothing. Who do you think keeps the station clean, the grounds in shape, the firetrucks spotless? They don't have maid service, or lawncare service. Before you throw stones at them, why don't you take your tail up to a station and follow a firefighter for a day.....you would be surprised. Let me not forget to mention that many of the "things" they have at the fire station are bought and paid for by the firefighters themselves.

justus4
99
Points
justus4 08/04/10 - 09:01 am
0
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The commission is operating
Unpublished

The commission is operating like a dictatorship and who will be testing them on their physical abilities, because any standards adopted will NOT be enforced uniformly due to U know what. In fact, this is a clever approach to use medical data to "control" whom is hired/fired. Don't believe it U say, well notice that particular individuals in management roles, already working in that field, will NOT be even ask to become fit or be fired. The excuses: "Well he has expert technical knowledge and don't need to be fit" or " He's got all those yrs and let's just "grandfather" him or just get a waiver, all resulting in non-uniform application of physical readiness. Yep, this is a pipe dream that may end up costing taxpayers plenty, because dealing with female applicants can causes serious medical/legal challenges that this bunch doesn't have a clue about.

Georgiais1
0
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Georgiais1 08/04/10 - 09:15 am
0
0
You might need to do a

You might need to do a background check on them too, unlike the Augusta Utilities Dept.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/04/10 - 09:32 am
0
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The Armed forces has had an

The Armed forces has had an annual fitness test for years. Unfortunately my last boss was 52 years old and his minimum was more than a 17 year old female. So what are we going to do about the women? The CPAT is geared for upper body strength and most (not all) women just don't have the strength. We may be looking at another X-Mart here.

Gillbill
0
Points
Gillbill 08/04/10 - 11:33 am
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Now if we can just get a

Now if we can just get a fitness test for incoming commissioners and city administrators as well.

When I was in the military we had these fitness test also, unfortunately the higher your rank the easier the test was so we Master Chiefs aboard ship who could barely fit through a hatch, much less run anywhere.. I'm sure the same thing will happen here and the Vets will get an easy ride.

seabeau
33
Points
seabeau 08/04/10 - 11:42 am
0
0
Heart attacks are the number

Heart attacks are the number one killer of firefighters. There should be no active firefighters (Attack Teams) above forty years old.

Gillbill
0
Points
Gillbill 08/04/10 - 12:26 pm
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-Activate Sarcasm Mode- Now

-Activate Sarcasm Mode-

Now I'm a bit worried about this test,
Won't it hurt the Firefighters self esteem if they fail?
Not every firefighter had a good childhood, some were underprivileged or came from broken homes .. how can we expect them to pass a test????
Its just unfair unless everyone gets the same grade.

Will we have to come up with a no fail test so we can get a good score in the No Firefighter left behind program? I certainly don't want the Federal Government taking over local firefighting.

I think the heads of all departments should take my Tax money and go on a week long retreat to an expensive resort to work out these issues.

- End Sarcasm Mode -

REP
0
Points
REP 08/04/10 - 01:44 pm
0
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Women seem to be able to pass

Women seem to be able to pass the military's PT test while I know this is a different test I haven't seen any details of the test printed to know how it differs. Also I doubt it will be required of "management" the old guys who mostly sit at the office and handle day to day and don't fight fires anymore so justus I would imagine some will be "grandfathered" as long as they don't actively take a shift.

My Take
0
Points
My Take 08/05/10 - 09:07 am
0
0
1-First of all, few if any

1-First of all, few if any physicians would ever sign a form or allow a patient to “talk” them into signing ANY form that was wasn’t true.

2-How much money would the city have to spend to have it’s own doctor?

3- How many unnecessary additional tests would he need to perform
to allow a new doctor give a new patient a clean bill of health and at
what cost.

4- At present, it cost the city nothing to accept a letter from the family doctor.

5- Is this the best use of tax payer’s funds, doesn’t the city already carry workman’s comprehensive insurance.

6- This is the government mentality, only the government can determine what’s best for each individual. What happened to patients rights and personal responsibility.

LynxRHot
0
Points
LynxRHot 08/05/10 - 09:42 am
0
0
For those who think the "old

For those who think the "old guys" in management sit at the office and handle day to day....they do more than that. Let's talk about getting calls at all hours of the night everytime a storm comes this way, working long hours anytime there is a huge event in town (fireworks, boat races, etc). They do more than just "sit in the office". You people are so sadly mistaken about the lives of firefighters.

Gillbill -- love your post!! :-)

fyafyta390
0
Points
fyafyta390 08/05/10 - 10:30 pm
0
0
@ Gillbill.... I loved your

@ Gillbill.... I loved your post. Sarcasm is a fantastic tool!!! @ My Take... the commission really needs to consider your insight.

The test (CPAT)that is being considered for use by the commission is designed for the hiring process, not for a yearly fitness assessment. Maybe the commission should adjust its retirement policy from its 55 years of age AND 25 years of service (meaning an 18 year old new hire would need 37 years of service and a 40 year old new hire would have to reach age 65.) to a flat 20 or 25 years like many other fire departments. They could also reward its departments for decreasing the number of Worker's Comp claims. Also, that thing about signing off on a new requirement for employment will turn into a lot of trees that died for no reason. I agree disssman, this may become the next X-Mart.

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