A former North Shore firefighter has come under criticism similar to that levied upon a retired Milwaukee cop for pursuing endurance events while receiving disability payments.
WITI-TV Fox 6 reporter Bryan Polcyn reported this week on Aaron Marjala, who left his firefighting duties because of an elbow injury, but went on to compete in the Ford Ironman Wisconsin last year.
"He doesn't have to pay taxes, his health insurance is free and he never has to work again if he doesn't want to. But he's fit enough to run an Ironman event," Polcyn wrote.
Marjala's story is similar to Dave Orlowski's.
As a Milwaukee police detective, he had a series of on-the-job mishaps - hit by a car and pushed off a porch, among other things. He had to have his left shoulder replaced in 1998, something recommended by three separate doctors. Even after surgery, the pain persisted to the point that he could no longer do street duty.
Since going on duty disability, Orlowski has competed in roughly a dozen Ironman triathlons, including the 30th anniversary of the original Ironman in 2008.
In talking about his injury and his pursuits, he explained that the relatively controlled motion of a swim, bike ride or run is different from the strength needed to handle suspects on the street.
"Let's clear the air," he told the Journal Sentinel's Dan Bice. "I'm doing something with my life, and I have a legitimate injury."
Similarly, Marjala maintains that his elbow injury prevents him from performing the specific tasks required of a firefighter.