What is the purpose of the Fitness-For-Life Program?

What is the purpose of the Fitness-For-Life Program?

The Fire Department Fitness-For-Life Program is modeled on the comprehensive medical screening program recommended by the Fire Service Joint Labor Management Fitness-For-Life-Fitness Initiative sponsored by the IAFF and the IAFC. It is a voluntary program which includes a thorough medical history, physical examination, and testing of vision, hearing, breathing, body fat, cholesterol, blood pressure, and physical fitness.

OHP contracts with a network of five private clinics spread throughout the County to perform the examinations.

The Fitness-For-Life program has several goals:

  • To screen for the presence of common diseases,
  • To evaluate risk factors for the development of diabetes, stroke, and heart disease,
  • To assess physical fitness, and
  • To educate and encourage program participants to improve their health and fitness to reduce the chance of developing future injuries and disease.

Can participation in the Fitness-For-Life Program result in work restrictions?

Yes. However, evaluating fitness-for-duty is not the purpose of the Fitness-For-Life Program. Therefore, our contractors and medical staff have been instructed to not restrict participants, unless there is a condition or finding that may cause sudden loss of consciousness. Some examples would include severely elevated blood pressure (>179 systolic or >109 diastolic), certain cardiac arrhythmias, an abnormally enlarged heart, or a recent loss of consciousness that may recur.

If restricted, how do I get back to full duty?

Any restriction resulting from participation in the Fitness-For-Life Program can only be removed following an evaluation from OHP. Typically, this evaluation begins with a request to the Program participant to submit relevant medical records from their treating doctor. Sometimes, further testing by the participant’s doctor is needed.

The vast majority of Program participants are returned to full duty quickly. In rare cases, OHP may decide that restrictions must be in place for a year or more when a threat to the safety of others takes precedence.

Who has access to medical information from my exam?

A participant’s medical questionnaire and test results are sent from the contracted clinic to OHP for review by OHP staff and storage in the participant’s medical record. The medical records that we maintain include the results of pre-placement examinations and all subsequent examinations that are done by our Fitness-For-Life contractors. These records are kept confidential. In general, they cannot be released to another person or organization without the employee’s permission.

However, there are a few exceptions such as requests for records from Worker’s Compensation or LACERA. In both instances, no medical release from the Program participant is legally required.

OHP staff does not release medical information regarding a participant to the Fire Department without the individual’s permission. Our communications are limited to work restrictions. Aggregated medical information, such as the average body fat or the average cholesterol level for a large group of employees, is not confidential, and may be shared with the Fire Department. However, before releasing this aggregated information to the Fire Department, the OHP would ensure that there is no way to link specific medical information to an individual employee.