Like Tree57Likes

Thread: Alcohol and fire trucks...not a winning combo...

  1. #1
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default Alcohol and fire trucks...not a winning combo...

    http://www.firehouse.com/news/109750...cohol-policies

    June 21--A federal judge said he wants to know more about the culture that led a North Bangor Fire Company assistant chief to allegedly be drunk at the wheel of a firetruck when it overturned returning from a parade in July 2010.

    In a decision Thursday, U.S. District Judge Lawrence Stengel refused to dismiss a lawsuit by firefighter Stuart Mintz over injuries he suffered in the crash.

    Ruling on motions by the fire company, Upper Mount Bethel Township and township supervisors Chairman Edward Nelson, Stengel dismissed many of Mintz's claims.

    But, the judge said, to decide whether the township might be liable for the conduct that led to Mintz's injuries, he needs to know more about the volunteer fire company's custom of firefighters drinking on duty that Mintz claims existed.

    North Bangor Fire Company Assistant Chief Zachary Romano allegedly had been drinking when the tanker he was driving after the Tatamy Fireman's Parade crashed three miles from the firehouse. Police found open beer cans rolling around the cab, according to a report.

    Mintz and his wife, Paula, allege it had become a custom for firefighters to drink while operating fire company equipment and that township and fire company officials did nothing for years to stop it.

    Stengel threw out Mintz's claim that Romano's conduct violated his Fourth Amendment rights by causing injuries that restrict his freedom. The judge said that for such a claim to succeed, a government employee must intentionally cause an injury.

    He also dismissed Mintz's claim that his 14th Amendment right to due process of law was violated by a township policy that allowed firefighters to drink on duty. Stengel said there was no evidence such a policy exists.

    However, Stengel said proof of a custom "so well-settled and permanent as to virtually constitute law" can also support a claim of due process violations.

    "Suffice it to say at this early stage that plaintiffs have alleged rampant practice of on-duty alcohol abuse, including drunk driving, by company firefighters, to which [the] township and Mr. Nelson turned a blind eye," Stengel said.

    While Stengel said he shares the township's questions about the alleged existence of a drinking culture in the fire company, he said the parties should have an opportunity to uncover more information.

    Attorneys for the fire company, its officials and the township and its officials did not return calls. Fredric Gallin, who represents Romano, said facts will come out as the case develops that will show Mintz shares responsibility for his injuries.

    Romano, 20, was charged with drunken driving after the crash in Plainfield Township. Police alleged he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.16 percent, eight times the limit for drivers under the legal drinking age of 21.

    State court files contain no record of how Romano's charges were resolved. Because none of the charges rose above a misdemeanor and he was a first-time offender, Romano, now 23, may have qualified for the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, which would allow his record to be expunged.

    peter.hall@mcall.com


    610-820-6581

    Copyright 2013 - The Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.)
    The booze is bad enough... but a 23 year old assistant chief?
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  2. #2
    Let's talk fire trucks!
    BoxAlarm187's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,320

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    The booze is bad enough... but a 23 year old assistant chief?
    I remember when this originally happened. The assistant chief was 20 at the time of the DUI wreck.
    Career Fire Captain
    Volunteer Chief Officer


    Never taking for granted that I'm privileged enough to have the greatest job in the world!

  3. #3
    Forum Member
    conrad427's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Just south of Canada
    Posts
    536

    Default

    We recently had a fire dept. refuse to allow booze in the firehall for a private event that was being held there. The crap storm that followed was amazing, culminating in half the dept. quitting more or less because the city managers forced them out for taking a stand. Booze is VERY important when you are memorializing an old retired firefighter. Kind of opposite of what happened but strange nonetheless. As volunteers we need to be getting away from the good ole boys club mentality, if the community does not demand it we as volunteers need to demand it of ourselves.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    We recently had a fire dept. refuse to allow booze in the firehall for a private event that was being held there. The crap storm that followed was amazing, culminating in half the dept. quitting more or less because the city managers forced them out for taking a stand. Booze is VERY important when you are memorializing an old retired firefighter. Kind of opposite of what happened but strange nonetheless. As volunteers we need to be getting away from the good ole boys club mentality, if the community does not demand it we as volunteers need to demand it of ourselves.

    If you want to memorialize a retiree or a LODD and want to have an "adult beverage", then rent a hall other than the firehall for the collation. Arrange to have mutual aid companies cover your firehouses.

    You see, it isn't rocket science or neurosurgery.. it is common sense.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  5. #5
    Forum Member
    conrad427's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Just south of Canada
    Posts
    536

    Default

    It all came down to the fact that the citizens figured they paid for the fire hall so they could do what ever they wanted in it, even though the firefighters had adopted a no booze policy and were proud of it. I respect the firefighters for taking a stand and trying to get away from the old image of holding the nozzle with one hand and your beer with another.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  6. #6
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,689

    Default

    Don't drink and respond. Its that simple.
    FWDbuff and WBFD25 like this.
    "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
    Forum Member
    FyredUp's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1999
    Location
    Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
    Posts
    10,117

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by DeputyChiefGonzo View Post
    If you want to memorialize a retiree or a LODD and want to have an "adult beverage", then rent a hall other than the firehall for the collation. Arrange to have mutual aid companies cover your firehouses.

    You see, it isn't rocket science or neurosurgery.. it is common sense.
    BING FREAKING O!!

    Alcohol has no place in a firehouse, volunteer or career. Go drink at the bar after drill or meeting and stop making the firehouse look like a party house.
    FWDbuff and WBFD25 like this.
    Crazy, but that's how it goes
    Millions of people living as foes
    Maybe it's not too late
    To learn how to love, and forget how to hate

  8. #8
    Forum Member
    conrad427's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Just south of Canada
    Posts
    536

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by FyredUp View Post
    BING FREAKING O!!

    Alcohol has no place in a firehouse, volunteer or career. Go drink at the bar after drill or meeting and stop making the firehouse look like a party house.
    It was the citizens who demanded the booze, the firefighters fought it and lost. By the way I agree with you guys. Problem is that quite a few depts. in the state still allow booze and they have no idea how it damages the public trust, or don't care.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  9. #9
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    Conrad.. I misread your post..originally I thought that half of the FD quit because they could not have alcohol in the fire house.

    The City managers who forced the issue are mutts.
    BoxAlarm187 and conrad427 like this.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  10. #10
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    1,172

    Default

    Any FD that has a 20 year old Assistant Chief is jacked up to begin with.

  11. #11
    Forum Member
    conrad427's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Just south of Canada
    Posts
    536

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by johnsb View Post
    Any FD that has a 20 year old Assistant Chief is jacked up to begin with.
    Heck, I am thirty, I would be general by now!
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,294

    Default

    Many's the fire department that used to be the social center of its community - everyone who was anyone was a member. In fact, many small town departments were more social clubs that fought fire than fire departments that held social functions.

    And the social side generally included "adult beverages." Even if there was no alcohol on the fireground, it usually came out on the return to the station.

    Some departments are still struggling with the transition between social club and fire department. I know of departments that used to boast 80+ members that are lucky to claim 20 now, as the emphasis has moved to actually fighting fire.

    As for alcohol in the firehouse - if it's strictly a firehouse, that works just fine. However, many rural firehouses include a large assembly area that can be popular for community social events - weddings, reunions, etc. Events that have nothing to do with the fire department except their location and the fact that the income from providing the facility helps support fire department operations. Alcohol is usually a part of such activities, and banning alcohol "because it's a fire house" will put a significant damper on this funding source. Odds are any firefighters present are either guests at the event or doing the catering, etc.

    Those firefighters in attendance should remain in attendance if they've been drinking and leave the firefighting to those who are sober. Absolutely no argument there.

    In this area we routinely put a neighboring department on automatic when we hold events like FD annual banquets. Oftimes the home department will also designate a crew to remain sober and handle a first-due rig if needed.
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  13. #13
    Forum Member
    EastKyFF's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    3,092

    Default

    I am bowled over that this conversation is necessary in 2013.
    snowball likes this.
    "Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.
    --General James Mattis, USMC


  14. #14
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,611

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by tree68 View Post
    Many's the fire department that used to be the social center of its community - everyone who was anyone was a member. In fact, many small town departments were more social clubs that fought fire than fire departments that held social functions.

    And the social side generally included "adult beverages." Even if there was no alcohol on the fireground, it usually came out on the return to the station.

    Some departments are still struggling with the transition between social club and fire department. I know of departments that used to boast 80+ members that are lucky to claim 20 now, as the emphasis has moved to actually fighting fire.

    As for alcohol in the firehouse - if it's strictly a firehouse, that works just fine. However, many rural firehouses include a large assembly area that can be popular for community social events - weddings, reunions, etc. Events that have nothing to do with the fire department except their location and the fact that the income from providing the facility helps support fire department operations. Alcohol is usually a part of such activities, and banning alcohol "because it's a fire house" will put a significant damper on this funding source. Odds are any firefighters present are either guests at the event or doing the catering, etc.

    Those firefighters in attendance should remain in attendance if they've been drinking and leave the firefighting to those who are sober. Absolutely no argument there.

    In this area we routinely put a neighboring department on automatic when we hold events like FD annual banquets. Oftimes the home department will also designate a crew to remain sober and handle a first-due rig if needed.
    The problem is not the alcohol in the firehouse.

    The problem is the management of the alcohol in the firehouse.

    I have no issues with the member shaving a beer or two in the firehouse after a drill as long as it's clear that they will not be making runs.

    And I have been on departments where that was perfectly clear.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  15. #15
    Forum Member
    conrad427's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Just south of Canada
    Posts
    536

    Default

    Yeah, the problem IS alcohol in the firehouse. Jezus if it is that important to drink go up town after drill. I'm sorry but I feel that booze has no place in the firehouse.
    WBFD25 and rm1524 like this.
    The fire service is about service to our fellow man.
    There is a trust that must not be broken and we are the keepers of that trust.
    Captain Dave LeBlanc

  16. #16
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,611

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by conrad427 View Post
    Yeah, the problem IS alcohol in the firehouse. Jezus if it is that important to drink go up town after drill. I'm sorry but I feel that booze has no place in the firehouse.
    And that is your opinion.

    I was in a department .. granted it's been over 25 years ago .. where a beer or two was allowed after drill but it was made very clear that if you decided to enjoy one, you were not making a run for at least 4 hours, and it was enforced.

    And there were no issues.

    Soad was available for free as well for those that wanted to stay and socialize but did not want to drink.

    To this day there are still many VFDs in the area surrounding my home town in upstate NY that have staffed bars in the firehouse, primarily for non-responding members, social members and members that may want to take a friend there for a drink.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  17. #17
    Forum Member
    ToDaRoof's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    The Old Dominion
    Posts
    174

    Default

    Of all the traditions of the fire service you're adamantly against, you cling to one that should have been eliminated decades ago? You used to post on this forum as "cdevoe", didn't you? You want a beer, either go home or to a bar. A firehouse is a public building that performs an essential service, not a social club.
    snowball, Chenzo and conrad427 like this.

  18. #18
    Forum Member
    WVFD705's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Woodson, Texas
    Posts
    154

    Default

    When our fire department was first formed, it was more of a social club than a fire department. Many around here were. But our department and many others have ended that tradition, and rightfully so. Alcohol has no place at the fire hall. The fire hall is for for training, working on equipment, responding to fires, and conducting business. None of which benefit from the presence of alcohol. At first, it hurt membership. But we eventually got past it and now are a much better department and the perception of our department has gone up tremendously.

    Our department rules are very strict regarding alcohol. We have zero tolerance. Not allowed at the fire hall, and not allowed at any fundraisers. Drinking and responding is forbidden, even if the member has had a single beer. No level of impairment, however slight, is acceptable.

  19. #19
    MembersZone Subscriber
    tree68's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Jefferson County, NY USA
    Posts
    2,294

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ToDaRoof View Post
    A firehouse is a public building that performs an essential service, not a social club.
    In many communities one of those essential services is that of a gathering place for the community - witness the 40'x80' room attached to the fire station. And the facility is often owned not by the community/municipality, but by the fire company.

    Even in municipally owned fire facilities, that big room is often considered a community room and is available for use on the terms of the municipality, not the fire department.

    The service that portion of the building performs for rural departments is to raise money to support the operations of the fire department, taxes not being sufficient. To that end, serving of alcohol becomes a necessity - many folks include alcohol in their celebrations and not serving it would mean an actual loss of income for the fire department.

    Sometimes the celebrations end up using the truck bays as well, so the alcohol enters that area as well.

    That does not provide an excuse for firefighters to drink and respond. These days any responsible department has rules to that effect, as already discussed.

    That doesn't mean I support alcohol in the fire station (I don't - I helped move the last of the beer out of the 'fridge our station), but a "fire hall" can be a very different thing than a "fire station."
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

  20. #20
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,611

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by WVFD705 View Post
    When our fire department was first formed, it was more of a social club than a fire department. Many around here were. But our department and many others have ended that tradition, and rightfully so. Alcohol has no place at the fire hall. The fire hall is for for training, working on equipment, responding to fires, and conducting business. None of which benefit from the presence of alcohol. At first, it hurt membership. But we eventually got past it and now are a much better department and the perception of our department has gone up tremendously.

    Our department rules are very strict regarding alcohol. We have zero tolerance. Not allowed at the fire hall, and not allowed at any fundraisers. Drinking and responding is forbidden, even if the member has had a single beer. No level of impairment, however slight, is acceptable.
    An so does both off my current departments.

    There are places where the fire department is still something of a social club, and have "social members" who do not respond to incidents. they are often important members of the community that like to be seen in FD coats, shirts and the like, or maybe just like to hang around the department and the station.

    In those communities, maintaining the social aspect of the department often helps them out in terms of funding and getting things done, and that's OK.

    Again, the issue is not the alcohol, but the management of the alcohol.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

  21. #21
    Forum Member
    WVFD705's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Woodson, Texas
    Posts
    154

    Default

    I disagree completely. The issue is the alcohol, not the management of the alcohol. The fire service exists to perform a mission, and alcohol in no way, shape or form aids us in performing that mission.

    Having people drink at a fire hall likely means people are drinking at the fire hall then going home. If that includes driving, then we are endangering the very citizens we are supposed to protect. I just don't see any benefit there.

  22. #22
    Forum Member
    DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,584

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    The problem is not the alcohol in the firehouse.

    The problem is the management of the alcohol in the firehouse.

    I have no issues with the member shaving a beer or two in the firehouse after a drill as long as it's clear that they will not be making runs.

    And I have been on departments where that was perfectly clear.
    This speaks volumes of your "character" or lack thereof.
    FyredUp and Chenzo like this.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  23. #23
    Forum Member
    Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,689

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Don't drink and respond. Its that simple.
    I'll quote myself. It's still that simple.
    "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?

  24. #24
    Forum Member
    Chenzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Rural WI
    Posts
    1,235

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LaFireEducator View Post
    The problem is not the alcohol in the firehouse.

    The problem is the management of the alcohol in the firehouse.

    I have no issues with the member shaving a beer or two in the firehouse after a drill as long as it's clear that they will not be making runs.

    And I have been on departments where that was perfectly clear.
    Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a child? Did she run you over with the lawn mower or something? Jesus man....

    Fighting fire, saving lives, protecting property is bad...

    Informing and being upfront with the community that your fire department may or may not be able to meet their expectations when you show, potentially causing the loss of life and property is bad...

    Deceiving the community by NOT informing them that you don't really even have a fire department, but a couple guys who may or may not show up and spray water is okay....

    Having beer in the firehouse, and potentially giving off the image that the fire department is a bunch of drunks is okay though....

    Oh... Okay....
    FyredUp, snowball and conrad427 like this.
    "A fire department that writes off civilians faster than an express line of 6 reasons or less is not progressive, it's dangerous, because it's run by fear. Fear does not save lives, it endangers them." -- Lt. Ray McCormack FDNY

    "Because if you don't think you're good, nobody else will." -- DC Tom Laun (ret) Syracuse

  25. #25
    Forum Member

    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    Location
    Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
    Posts
    10,611

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Chenzo View Post
    Did your mother drop you on your head when you were a child? Did she run you over with the lawn mower or something? Jesus man....

    Fighting fire, saving lives, protecting property is bad...

    And where exactly did I say that it was "bad"?

    I did state that it comes after that we have assured our safety on the fireground, but never referred to it as something that we should not do.


    Informing and being upfront with the community that your fire department may or may not be able to meet their expectations when you show, potentially causing the loss of life and property is bad...

    And again, I have no doubt that most of the members of our community understand the limitations of the emergency services as a whole in the rural areas of the parish.

    Given that you do not live here and know nothing of the community ....


    Deceiving the community by NOT informing them that you don't really even have a fire department, but a couple guys who may or may not show up and spray water is okay....

    I would strongly debate that statement.

    Yes, there are times that our abilities are limited due to manpower but there are also times that we have more capabilities than just about any other rural department in the parish.


    Having beer in the firehouse, and potentially giving off the image that the fire department is a bunch of drunks is okay though....

    And yes it is OK if the department uses the rental of the social hall as a community service and a way to raise funds or if the consummation of a beer or two after drill is monitored with firm and hard prohibitions on emergency response.

    Would I want it in my firehouse? No. But I will not condemn it in other places if there are controls on response.



    Oh... Okay....
    Funny how you twist and contort.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Combo Fire Dept
    By CFDENGINE512 in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 12-18-2006, 09:45 AM
  2. Drinking alcohol and driving fire trucks...
    By ChiefReason in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 15
    Last Post: 06-08-2004, 05:20 PM
  3. Fire Truck / Ambulance Combo
    By micgunderson in forum Firefighters Forum
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 08-04-2002, 09:48 PM
  4. HURST EK COMBO or HP COMBO Tools...
    By Diesel in forum University of Extrication
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-21-2000, 06:36 PM
  5. Combo Vol Fire and Rescue Depts.
    By Cdaileym@netscape.net in forum Meet and Greet
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-18-1999, 02:43 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts

Log in

Click here to log in or register