CHS Phase Group FAQs
How often are medical exams required (what's the periodicity)?
All positions considered arduous must take an exam every three years; and self-certify in the years between as a condition of employment. The self-certification process will be in place for Phase 1 participants fire season 2016.
What if an individual had an exam just last year, can I wait for two more years to get an exam under the new contract?
No. Periodicity will start again under the new contract. If your Unit has been selected to phase in, new exams must be completed.
Has the exam components changed from last year?
Yes. The exam is more comprehensive and includes adequate testing for a Reviewing Medical Officer to assess the individual against the Federal Interagency Wildland Firefighter Medical Standards. Therefore, appointments will take longer than before.
What unique identification number do I use to input firefighters?
Use the examinees' social security number. Once entered into the system, the social security number is defaulted to the last four and protected per Privacy Act and contract requirements.
What exam type should be scheduled - a baseline or periodic exam? What if a baseline has been completed in the past?
During initiation of the contract, DOI MSP provided CHS with all previous baselines that could be verified. CHS uploaded this information into CAS. The CAS system is set to automatically prompt schedule of a periodic exam for all individuals with verified baselines. Unless the system prompts you for a periodic, you should take a baseline exam. Please do not try and work around this even if you feel you had a baseline previously.
How long does it take from the time of exam to a qualification determination?
A determination will be made within 10 business days of the medical exam.
How can I help make the process as smooth as possible?
Be responsive to CHS's contact attempts.
What happens in the event of a missed appointment?
-Be flexible with appointment times (have more than one option).
-Don't miss the appointment.
-Most importantly, upload (into EAS) and/or bring to the appointment any supporting information for recent/existing conditions, especially if any specific conditions were disclosed on the medical history questionnaire.
o Example 1: if you are diabetic you should upload or provide at the time of appointment recent A1C readings that indicate you are static and stable.
o Example 2: if you had a recent surgery (especially if you've listed the surgery on your questionnaire) you should bring a copy of a note from your Doctor indicating you are good to go (can perform the essential functions).
The Government will incur a cost of $151 dollars for every missed appointment. Please contact CHS and reschedule if you cannot make it!
Why might I be driving by one clinic to go to another clinic that is further?
There are several possible reasons:
What if I have concerns/issues with clinic quality?
• The closer clinic cannot perform all of the exam requirements
• The closer clinic has refused to contract with CHS
• There are no available appointments at the closer clinic
If you have a suggestion on a preferred clinic, please provide that clinic's information to DOI MSP: email@example.com or 888-286-2521. CHS will attempt to include that clinic in their network.
Please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 888-636-8619 and express your concerns.
What if I have a pre-existing Risk Mitigation/Waiver on file?
All existing Risk Mitigation/Waivers were provided to CHS during contract initiation. Upon review of your examination the Reviewing Medical Officer will determine any changes in your medical condition that could impact your Risk Mitigation/Waiver. If there are no changes that impact your existing Risk Mitigation/Waiver, you will be Qualified with Waiver; and your Risk Mitigation/Waiver will remain in place unless there are changes in your health status. If there are changes in your medical condition, you will be Not Qualified and your Risk Mitigation/Waiver will be reviewed.
I have a Risk Mitigation/Waiver that was generated during 2011-14 that was not sent to the DOI MSP.
Please contact DOI MSP email@example.com or 888-286-2521.
I received two letters from CHS regarding the outcomes of my exam; what is the difference?
The Qualification Determination letter is the official letter clearly indicating your medical qualification (Qualified, Qualified with Risk Mitigation/Waiver, Not Qualified or additional information required). The second letter you received is a courtesy letter from CHS, separate from the DOI MSP process summarizing your overall health with suggestions for follow-up which will not be covered by the Government.
An individual was determined Not Qualified. What is the next step?
Participate in the Risk Mitigation/Waiver Process and/or if you disagree with your qualification, provide additional information for Reviewing Medical Officer Review that could potentially change your qualification.
How can I request a copy of my exam?
• Information on and help with the Risk Mitigation/Waiver Process can be found here: https://www.nifc.gov/medical_standards or by calling 888-286-2521.
• A request for Reviewing Medical Officer (RMO) review can also be obtained using the contact information above. An RMO review can be requested at any time during the DOI MSP process if an individual feels they have additional medical information that could change their qualification determination. The DOI MSP can help guide you on the type of information that will be helpful.
It is planned to have the exam copy request function incorporated in the Employee Access System. Until this function is in place, request a copy of the exam through Email to CHS at: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Employee should email from the account provided at registration to ensure valid identity.
• CHS will send a reply email with an encrypted link that will allow them to securely access their medical exam results.
What are medical standards?
The medical standards apply only for arduous duty wildland firefighting positions as described in PMS 310-1. Specific medical standards are required because of the arduous and hazardous nature of the job, in addition to providing a means of tracking occupational health relative to acute and chronic exposure to the wildland firefighter environment. The information gathered will assist the agencies in improving their fire safety programs and their commitment to maintain a high degree of responsibility toward public and firefighter safety.
Who do the medical standards apply to?
The medical standards only apply to arduous federal wildland firefighters, primary and collateral duty. AD/EFF's need to read their Agency specific memo for guidance regardless of age.
Are the medical standards the same as the fitness test for arduous duty known as the work capacity or pack test?
No. You must have a clearance determination (back page of exam) or qualification letter from CHS stating that you meet the medical standards for arduous duty before you can participate in the arduous duty work capacity test (pack test).
Where do I go for my medical examination?
Your local FMO or SHRO should be able to assist you.
How do I get my exam paperwork?
CHS should be emailing, mailing, or faxing your exam directly to the clinic. You will need to fill out some screening questions beforehand. For those not participating with the contractor this year Exams are available on our website under the "Exam Process" tab.
I cannot make my medical appointment. What do I do?
Please call CHS customer service at 1-888-636-8619 to let them know and reschedule. If using an exam from our website please call the facility where you were scheduled and reschedule your exam.
Who can make a clearance determination?
CHS Reviewing Medical Officers will make the qualification determination. If using exam from our website your local medical provider will make a qualification determination.
What do I need to bring to the exam?
Once you receive your exam paperwork, complete all of the required information on the examination form. Include your medical history, explain any medical problems you have, and provide a list prescription medications. Bring supporting documenation for anything you mark "yes" to on the questionnaire.
I have concerns about the non-qualification determination I received from CHS or the local clinic, who do I contact to report this to?
Call your FMO or SHRO. If further questions remain please have the FMO or SHRO call or email the DOI MSP Customer Service Representative at 888-286-2521 or email them at email@example.com
to request a RMO Review.
Who pays for the medical examination?
The agency pays for the medical examination. Contact your local FMO or SHRO for payment information.
How will I know if I have met the medical standards and can be hired or take the pack test?
A qualification determination will be made at the time of the exam (back page) or if your exam is with CHS you will receive a qualification determination letter to the email address provided.
I just received a Not Qualified letter and I want to start the Risk Mitigation/Waiver process.
Bring your entire exam packet to your FMO or SHRO and you will receive an Opportunity Memo from your SHRO with complete instructions on how to participate in the Risk Mitigation / Waiver Process. Upon receiving the Opportunity Memo you will have 5 calendar days to submit your response back to your SHRO. Please refer WLFF Toolbox on the left side of our homepage for further information.
I have additional medical information that may change my qualification from Not Qualified to Qualified. What should I do?
If you are submitting additional information for an RMO Review, gather all medical records that show the current status of your medical condition as well as any tests or information from your doctor. Please call or email the DOI MSP Customer Service Representative at 888-286-2521 or firstname.lastname@example.org
to request a RMO Review. You will be required to send the DOI MSP an RMO Review Request form found here our website; RMO Review Request
Why does one person get Qualified while another doesn't and they have the same issue?
Given the variations in which a condition may present in different individuals (i.e. severity, aerobic capacity, medications and doses, triggers), each case is reviewed independently with consideration of all the medical information available from the examination and from the examinee's personal health care provider.
What is the difference between Risk Mitigation and a Waiver?
A Risk Mitigation would place specific requirements on the WLFF to reduce the risk(s) associated with the non-clearance medical conditions. These mitigations will be identified in the Interactive Assessment Process with you, the FMO and SHRO. A Waiver would waive the Federal Interagency Wildland Firefighter Medical Standards. This option would require the WLFF to establish that the non-qualified medical conditions does not interfere or pose a safety risk with the essential functions of the job. It is important to stress that these are proposed and specialized mitigations should be developed on a case by case basis during the Interactive Risk Assessment Process.
What will the Interactive Risk Assessment Process evaluate?
The Interactive Risk Assessment Process
will evaluate the following:
- Medical conditions and ability to safely and efficiently perform the tasks
- Qualifications, Experience and Training
- Medical Conditions is Static and Stable
- Conditions of Employment
- Body Stature and PPE
Please refer to the DOI MSP website at http://www.nifc.gov/medical_standards/
under job aids for a complete guide. Unlike in the past, there are strict timelines that must be followed in the Risk Mitigation / Waiver Process.
Who makes the final decision in the Risk Mitigation/Waiver Process?
In both the 1st level and 2nd level of the RM/W Process an agency Management Officer (MO) will make the final decision. The MO is typically the local level Line Officer.
I applied for a job as a GS/WG Temporary Seasonal Hire, but did not clear the medical exam. Can I fight fire as an AD/EFF?
No. Medical Standards apply to all arduous positions and employee types.
Interactive Risk Assessment Process Job Aid