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.