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City Fire Department Rookie Fired for Smoking Cigarette

Chris Casteel Published: January 10, 1985

"He had gotten up on a 30- or 40-foot ladder, a real nerve-wracking thing to do, and he just took a couple of puffs of a cigarette at lunch. He came over here and said he might be fired, he didn't say he would be.

"This happened just before Christmas. He's been trying to get some means of support. He retained a lawyer, but he was waiting to see if the fire department was going to change their minds. He just wants his job back," Mrs. Harwell said.

"Firefighting being the type of job it is, it requires a physically fit person," Hansen said. "The new policy is mainly a gesture to keep firefighters more healthy. There are fire departments around the country that aren't allowing their veterans to smoke."

"It's really Orwellian," Angel said. "1984 is here in 1985. I question how far the government can go in regulating our lives."

On Monday, a city committee in Tulsa recommended that only non-smokers be hired as firefighters. Reasons for the recommendations included concern for the health and safety of firemen.

However, the committee also addressed the need to reduce the growing number of workers compensation claims arising from the fire department.

Most of those claims have been for lung and hearing disabilities.

Hansen said the Oklahoma City department was preparing a physical fitness plan for firefighters, and a counseling program for those who want to stop smoking. BIOG: NAME:

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