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  1. #1
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Default Alcohol & the Fire Service = STUPIDITY

    Yet another shining example of why Volunteer Departments need to adopt "ZERO TOLERANCE" policies for alcohol consumption.......

    Pa. Firefighters Fight With Each Other Before Call
    Tricia Pursell - The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa.

    Posted: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 01:01am
    Updated: Thu, 11/17/2011 - 01:01am

    --

    Nov. 16--HUMMELS WHARF -- A fight broke out between two Hummels Wharf firefighters just minutes after an emergency call at 11 p.m. Monday requested the company respond to an accident near 6551 Park Road.

    The scuffle did not jeopardize a timely response by emergency officials to the accident -- a vehicle that slammed into a pole -- but it did stretch state police resources.

    According to Cpl. Dominic Picerno, of state police at Selinsgrove, the first shift responded to the fire company fight, and the second, to the accident.

    Shamokin Dam police were called to assist state troopers, who are the primary responders to vehicle accidents. According to Patrolman Timothy Bremigen, Shamokin Dam police were dispatched to the accident at 11:08 p.m., arrived at 11:13 p.m., and were on standby until state police arrived. They left the scene at 11:33 p.m.

    Hummels Wharf Fire Department Deputy Chief John "Jack" Grove said the company's engine at 11 p.m. was at a medical call, and that dispatchers later canceled the need for fire apparatus at the accident scene.

    However, the behavior by the firefighters is unacceptable and has been discussed, Grove said.

    "We're going to handle things internally, and hopefully get things straightened out so it doesn't happen again," he said. "That's just not what we're about."

    Grove said the two had been drinking before and after the regular monthly fire department meeting Monday night, and the fight was "a personal thing" involving the fire company.

    "They had been at odds with one another for quite a few months," he said.

    While details of punishment have not been formally discussed, Grove said, "Suspensions are in order. Something has to be done."
    The firefighters both suffered minor injuries from the fight and were treated by an ambulance returning from the accident scene.

    Charges will likely be filed for assault and harassment, Picerno said.

    Snyder County 911 coordinator Chad Aucker said two different callers reported a fight in progress at the station around 11 p.m.

    The accident involved driver Dennis Bingaman, 37, of Selinsgrove, who lost control of his vehicle when something reportedly ran out in front of it. The vehicle struck a pole. Bingaman suffered a minor injury, but refused medical treatment. He was wearing a seat belt.

    The names of the firefighters were unavailable at deadline.


    ALLvolunteer departments need to adopt ZERO tolerance policies that do not allow members to respond to alarms within 8-10 hours of consuming alcohol.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    A really important part of this story is that their little feud had been going on for quite a while. Beer (or other adult beverage) simply served as a catalyst at that point in time. The story doesn't say where they were drinking. We've had folks who arrived at our monthly meeting after leaving the local bar without a fight being involved.

    If the fight had occurred at the bar down the street we wouldn't be reading about it, and it would have been buried in the "local news" column (or maybe "police report") of the local newspaper. The fact that they were members of the fire department probably wouldn't have entered the discussion.

    That said, it's just another manifestation of the "social club that fights fires" mindset. That doesn't make it right, of course.

    We usually hang around after our monthly meeting for a few cold ones and other refreshments. Some really good discussions happen there. I should note that our meetings are held in our banquet hall, which is completely separate from the station. There used to be a fridge full of beer in the station. That's history. The beer, not the fridge. It's full of water now.

    Many times, after the refreshments are gone, a few of the folks will walk the half block to a local bar and continue their activities there.

    It's a free country. As long as they don't respond to an alarm in that state (or within 8 or so hours), who cares?

    OK, so I'll be labelled as someone who condones drunk firefighters. Nothing could be further from the truth. But to color this as a "drunk firefighter" story is to ignore the rest of the story, which has nothing to do with the fire service. Two drunks who don't get along got in a fight. It happened to be at the fire department.
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  3. #3
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Doesnt matter where they were drinking- at their homes, at the bar down the street or at the VFW post, the department in question (as well as all other VFD's) should adopt a zero tolerance policy for anyone who drinks and then responds. You drink (one beer, one shot....whatever) you turn your pager off for 8 hours. Period.

    Oh, and yes, that bar in your firehouse should be off-limits to firefighters. Should be for persons utilizing the rental hall only.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  4. #4
    MembersZone Subscriber tree68's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Oh, and yes, that bar in your firehouse should be off-limits to firefighters. Should be for persons utilizing the rental hall only.
    There is no bar in our firehouse.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  5. #5
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    When I was chief of my #1 POC FD my policy was clear. If you have had even one drink do NOT show up to a fire call. If you have been found to be drinking and you do show up you will be removed from the scene and immediately suspended.

    We had removed all alcohol from the fire station years before I became chief and at that time only allowed it in the fire house for special events like our holiday party. We have since moved the holiday party out of the firehouse to local restaraunts and are at a complete zero alcohol in the station policy now.

    While alcohol may have been a contributing factor in this fight the comment that the fight was a "personal thing" indicates to me that this had been brewing for some time. Perhaps if an officer had stepped up at a earlier time, told them to knock it off or face disciplinary action, it would never have gotten this far in the first place. I have seen similar situations, where guys have had feuds going on that the chief or officers didn't put a stop to because they either didn't have the guts, or didn't want anyone mad at them. I have never seen a fight but have seen it get darn close to that.

    Fankly, I am not sure suspending them sends a clear enough message that this won't be tolerated, especially if criminal charges ae filed and convictions come out of this.

    Those of us on the POC/Volly side just cringe when we see this crap. We struggle to show we are professional, competent, skilled, and the equal of our career Brothers and Sisters and then this type of thing hits the press. It is a slap in the face.
    Last edited by FyredUp; 11-17-2011 at 09:23 AM.
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  6. #6
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Did they respond to the call?

    Or were they still at the firehouse and not involved with the response at all?

    And yes, I have drank at my firehouse. And yes, I did not (and do not) respond to the calls.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  7. #7
    Let's talk fire trucks! BoxAlarm187's Avatar
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    FWD beat me to posting this. Whether is was an on-going fued between the lads or not, it's just another example of why alcohol and the fire service don't mix.
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  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FWDbuff View Post
    Doesnt matter where they were drinking- at their homes, at the bar down the street or at the VFW post, the department in question (as well as all other VFD's) should adopt a zero tolerance policy for anyone who drinks and then responds. You drink (one beer, one shot....whatever) you turn your pager off for 8 hours. Period.
    The story is rather vague on the details. Were they drinking at the firehouse or somewhere else? Were they there responding to the call or had they come up for the meeting? There is a difference between responding to the firecall after drinking and being there for the meeting with no intention of responding.

    the only thing in the article I see is that the chief says they were drinking "before, and after" the meeting. This implies that they were either drinking at the firehouse, or they had left the firehouse after the meeting to continue drinking and then came back when the call came in. The former is looked down upon but not horrible if strictly controlled. The latter is an absolute no no.
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    Forum Member CaptOldTimer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    FWD beat me to posting this. Whether is was an on-going fued between the lads or not, it's just another example of why alcohol and the fire service don't mix.
    Here, here, I agree. No drinking in, around the fire house. If you drink, stay the heck away from the fire house!



    Plus don't go to musters and start drinking either!!



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  10. #10
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    FWD, let me first say I am completely agree with your Statement about Alcohol in the firehouse or responding after consuming. We all know that in some areas it is "accepted" practice to drink in firehouse. I also don't believe suspension is the answer in these cases it should be immediate termination. I can't think of any excuse that has any merit.

  11. #11
    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by no1special View Post
    FWD, let me first say I am completely agree with your Statement about Alcohol in the firehouse or responding after consuming. We all know that in some areas it is "accepted" practice to drink in firehouse. I also don't believe suspension is the answer in these cases it should be immediate termination. I can't think of any excuse that has any merit.
    Suspension, at a minimum, would be required just for the fight.. anything of the magnitude that required a police response and those guys would be suspended pending the investigation. Termination would not be out of line depending on the outcome of that. Regardless of whether alcohol was involved or not.

    I'm still not willing to throw the book at them on the alcohol issue.. not enough known.
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  12. #12
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Fankly, I don't care if alcohol was a contributing factor or not, physical violence, to the point the cops had to be called, is simply unacceptable. It paints a horific picture of the FD to the public, it causes increased tension amongst the other members who inevitably choose sides. The chief appears to have known about the problem and did nothing to intervene to head it off.

    Sounds like a situation that should have, and could have been prevented.

    Suspension at a minimum and I would look very strongly at termnation for both of them.
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  13. #13
    MembersZone Subscriber voyager9's Avatar
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    Statter has more info
    According to news reports, the fight between two members occurred right after a company meeting where one of the men found out he would no longer be the assistant chief.
    Way to set an example there, chief.
    So you call this your free country
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    Suspension, at a minimum, would be required just for the fight.. anything of the magnitude that required a police response and those guys would be suspended pending the investigation. Termination would not be out of line depending on the outcome of that. Regardless of whether alcohol was involved or not.

    I'm still not willing to throw the book at them on the alcohol issue.. not enough known.
    I guess I agree to an extent. But where is the line drawn? I mean it appears as though they didn't respond THIS time but what has happened in the past. Now reading that they were possibly in a supervisory role HOLY CR@P . I just don't get it.

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    What a poorly written article. I hope the author was not drinking at the time.

  16. #16
    Forum Member GTRider245's Avatar
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    Monthly meeting night, huh? I bet they are a jam up group.
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  17. #17
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    Another black eye for the fire service. People highly regard firefighters. Too bad a few brothers wreck our reputation.

  18. #18
    Back In Black ChiefKN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    Fankly, I don't care if alcohol was a contributing factor or not, physical violence, to the point the cops had to be called, is simply unacceptable. It paints a horific picture of the FD to the public, it causes increased tension amongst the other members who inevitably choose sides. The chief appears to have known about the problem and did nothing to intervene to head it off.

    Sounds like a situation that should have, and could have been prevented.

    Suspension at a minimum and I would look very strongly at termnation for both of them.
    Amen

    Violence is violence....
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

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  19. #19
    Forum Member islandfire03's Avatar
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    Thumbs down

    I find it hard to believe that there are still drinking clubs that are allowed to own fire apparatus.
    Do one or the other.

  20. #20
    MembersZone Subscriber LVFD301's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voyager9 View Post
    Statter has more info


    Way to set an example there, chief.
    Upset because he was no longer asst Chief? I could understand a celebration maybe.

    Anyways, as I have said over and over again,

    WE ARE OUR OWN WORSE ENEMY

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