At What Age Should You Turn in the Badge?

This question is posed for both Fire and EMS work.

At what age should you decide to hang up the badge and either retire, quit volunteering, or go to a supportive/auxiliary role in your department?

This question is brought on by discussion we had last night over at Firefighter Netcast. We dissected LODD’s and spoke about the many things causing LODD’s as well as ages in when firefighters and/or EMT’s are dying in the Line of Duty.

We discussed about a 72 y.o. LODD.

I am merely posing the question, should we still be fighting fire (or running EMS calls) at this age. Let us be honest, firefighting is dangerous and physically challenging. Are we really doing ourselves a favor by remaining active for this long.

My angle is not for departments to start discriminating or deciding at what age you have to quit. My angle is that individually, we need to understand that there will come a point in time where we will need to stop being active.

I had another discussion today about it via twitter. I did not have an answer. We all know that you could have a 60 y.o. who is in better health than a 40 y.o. Likewise you could have an 80 y.0. who might be in the shape of a 60 y.o. In theory, there probably isn’t a perfect age to cease active service. I know in my department there used to be a sunset of 66 on working as a firefighter. This came to a stop after certain legislation was passed to end discrimination on age.

I know from speaking with coworkers that it is not easy to retire and go on with your life after spending 20-30 years doing what you love. Many have a hard time leaving because they think the department cannot operate without them. Others have a hard time realizing that the department can operate without them.

When do you think you will turn in the badge? When do you think you should turn in the badge?