I joined after looking around for awhile but had a question. I am diagnosed as being bipolar. I am medicated and under control- meaning I haven't had an episode in about three years. I spoke to a local department about becoming a volunteer and they said that their decision would be based on the doctors doing the physical and such. I am moving soon to florida from new jersey so I am going to contact a local volunteer department down there to see if it is the same story. I have wanted to be a firefighter for about a year now and think I could do it and do it well.
My main question is would you all trust going on a call with someone like me at your side? I want to see the bigger picture and see if you all think there would be trust issues. I know this would be a highly demanding job and am prepared for it mentally. I just don't want to get accepted based on some ADA loophole or something of that nature. Again I have been stable for about three years and am on minimal medication to stay that way. I have talked to friends and family(come from a police family) but want to hear from some actual firefighters. Please don't feel you have to sugar coat anything. I am a big boy and can handle it if you all think I would be a liability. Thanks for any responses.
5/3/2011 1:45 PM
I am bipolar also...my name is BJ...I joined the Fisher Ferry Volunteer Fire Dept on July 6, 2001 because my sister married into that dept...I am on minimal meds for my bipolar...I was looked down upon (stigma) because of my illness...I quit that dept in May 2007 because I moved into the city...When I was on that dept, the stigma against me was ALOT...Now since I moved back into the county (not in the same fire district, but a better one) I plan on applying for the Letourneau Vol Fire Dept. Besides the terrible stigma against me is that Fisher Ferry has so many members that not everybody knew each other. On Fisher Ferry, if you wasn't in the friendship click then they would spend less and less time with you. It was so bad that eventually they would verbally tell you that you wasn't wanted on "their" dept. How come the ones without a mental illness owns the dept? I've always thought that the citizens within the fire district was the ones who we helped, so I assumed that the citizens owned the dept not the members. Since I am a volly, I automatically tell myself that the citizens are my boss and I am their employee. Letouneau Vol Fire Dept has only 6 members, so it will be less stress to get to know eveybody. I plan on doing the EMS for Letourneau because nobody is trained in it. They are only trained as firefighters.
In your situation, be VERY careful to not let the stigma of your bipolar affect your emotions. When I was on Fisher Ferry the stigma was so strong and hurtful that I ended up in the psych ward of the local hospital several times.
Please keep in touch with me through this forum, and let me know how everything is going.
8/11/2011 11:33 PM
Shouldn't be an issue if you're cleared by a doctor, feel that you're mentally able to perform, and/or the Chief has already been notified.