Random Drug Testing of Firefighters
Many courts have upheld random drug testing of firefighters and police officers given the safety-sensitive work they perform. Many departments have negotiated random drug testing in their collective bargaining agreements. For example, in April 2008, the Cincinnati Fire Department begins random drug testing pursuant to their new CBA with IAFF Local No. 48. (Send an e-mail to the author of this article if you want a copy.)
Fire departments should consult with local legal counsel about lawfulness of random drug testing in their state.
Senator Mitchell concluded in his report, "The clean major league players deserve far better than they have had to endure." (Report, page 306.) Fire departments that administer random drug testing should read the report's section on Major League Baseball's administration of the program (starting at page 263) and tighten up any "loopholes" in your fire department's procedures.
Larry Bennett is an attorney and the Deputy Director of Fire Science Education at the University of Cincinnati's Fire Science Department. He has been a volunteer firefighter/EMT for the past 27 years, and is the author of a new textbook, Fire Service Law, Prentice Hall/Brady (2007), that was recently selected for use by the National Fire Academy in its distant learning program. Larry writes a free Fire & EMS Law newsletter that can be read at the UC Fire Science web page. You can contact Larry by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org or at the University of Cincinnati at 513-556-6583.