Illinois Fire Inspector with Multiple Sclerosis Fights for Job

A fire inspector living with multiple sclerosis says he still has what it takes to serve the public. But his boss argued David Sackett can no longer perform essential job functions, reports NBC Chicago.

Sackett left a job in the corporate world to pursue his dream of being a firefighter and a paramedic. He said he began serving the Oswego community as a firefighter and paramedic in 2005.

However, Sackett was diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis in 2010. The disease affects muscle movement. Sackett said he informed his colleagues about his condition. He said when the physical demands of being a firefighter became too difficult, the fire district accommodated his request to become a fire inspector.

“It’s a little bit different atmosphere going through and inspecting a building and checking fire extinguishers and alarm systems than going into a building that’s on fire,” Sackett said.

But Sackett is now fighting to keep his job.

Earlier this year, Chief Rick Neitzer notified the Board of Fire Commissioners for Kendall and Will Counties that Sackett was physically unfit to perform the duties of a firefighter-paramedic. His argument included input from doctors. The chief also wrote Sackett disobeyed a direct order by not participating in a physically-demanding test for firefighters that targets a firefighters climbing, crawling, carrying and chopping skills.

“I cannot do all the things that a firefighter-paramedic needs to do on the street, but I wasn’t on the street. I was in the bureau,” Sackett said.

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