Number of federal emergency firefighters crews drops by over half

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Last year Alaska Fire Service had 23 crews on board, but this year they only have eight. One reason for the decline might be a new health screening questionnaire. Starting last January, all federal emergency firefighting crews were required to take it. Some people were deterred because of that, but fire officials say raising the bar isn't all bad.
This one page questionnaire identifies who'd be at risk while taking the physical fitness test. They just want to make sure people are fit for the job so they can avoid injuries or medical emergencies. Fighting fire is a physically demanding job, and not for everyone. It requires long hours, manual labor and a good health report. These new medical standards are ensuring they have the best qualified fire fighters, even though crew numbers are declining.
"The reason why the Department of the Interior is doing the medical standards is because we want to make sure that people are capable, medically capable, they don't have pre-existing conditions that might be exacerbated the pack test or even firefighting," said Bureau of Land Management spokesperson, Beth Ipsen.
Alaska Fire Service is working on soliciting contracted type-2 fire crews for next year. For more information on their requirements, you can contact Hudson Plass at 907-356-5611.