The Alcohol Question

You are a rookie firefighter who is assigned to vacuuming the dormitory. As you are performing your duties, you notice a bottle of alcohol under the engineer’s bed and you know that alcohol is strictly forbidden on fire department premises. What...


You are a rookie firefighter who is assigned to vacuuming the dormitory. As you are performing your duties, you notice a bottle of alcohol under the engineer's bed. You know that alcohol is strictly forbidden on fire department premises. What would you do and why?

Answer:
The first thing I would do is gather the facts. Since alcohol on the premises is such a violation of our policy, my first thought would be that this is some kind of test. I would approach the engineer and ask him about the bottle under his bed.

Keeping in mind that there are three different shifts that use the bed, I would keep an open mind since the bottle may have been left by one of the members on the other shift.

My response would be dictated by the engineer's reactions. If he tells me he knows nothing about the bottle, I would take it to the captain myself. I would expect the captain to launch his own investigation. At this point, I would feel that I have handled the situation to the best of my ability.

If the engineer is evasive or tells me to mind my own business, I will make it clear that the captain needs to be made aware of the bottle of alcohol under his bed. This would be uncomfortable for me, but I would not be willing to let it pass without taking the proper action. My objective would be to let the engineer know the value of bringing this violation to the captain's attention.

I know it will make the engineer look better in the eyes of the captain if he comes forward with the information on his own. If he is unwilling to come forward, I have no alternative but to tell the captain myself. Lastly, doing so will make it much easier on my relationships with my fellow firefighters.

The engineer says he is sorry and tells you that he will take the bottle out to his truck. What would you do and why?

Answer: I would once again explain to the engineer that the captain needs to be informed. The issue of having a bottle of alcohol is such a violation of the policies and procedures that I would be unwilling to jeopardize my job or compromise the fire department by remaining silent. I would make another attempt to try to convince him to go to the captain. If he were unwilling to do so, I would tell the captain myself.

The engineer tells you that he had a small drink this morning and that he is sorry, he made a mistake. He reminds you that he has known you for a long time, even before you came on the fire department. He has helped you get through your first two probationary exams. What would you do and why?

Answer:
I would thank him for his help thus far in my career. I would then redirect him to the issue at hand. It has now become apparent that he has been drinking on duty. This is even more serious than just having a bottle of alcohol on the premises. The captain must be notified immediately and the company must be put out of service. There is no way I would allow this engineer to drive.

The engineer says that he is not feeling well. His solution is to tell the captain that he wants to go home sick. What would you do and why?

Answer:
This would not be an acceptable solution. I would tell him that I am not willing to go along with his plan or be a party to a cover up. In addition to his drinking on duty, he is would be making matters worse by getting into his car and driving home. There is just no way I would allow that to happen. The engineer agrees to go to the captain but says that the captain is in a meeting with the battalion chief. He wants to wait until he is finished with his meeting.

How would this affect your actions?
I would tell him that this was important enough to interrupt the meeting immediately. If he is more comfortable with me accompanying him, I will do so. I would make sure this issue was taken care of immediately.

Reasoning

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