Thread: legal question

  1. #1
    ericnh Guest

    Post legal question

    I am a volunteer from NJ and am wondering if the FD that you are a member of or the town itself has a right to drug test Volunteers? I recently got into a discussion about itand I thought I would bring it to you. I remember hearing the issue in the news some time ago. I am not saying I disagree with the drug testing because volunteers of all people should be drug free. What I am asking is, is it legal? Some people have said that because in most towns your are technically an employee of the town they can.
    I'm not sure what to think.

    [This message has been edited by ericnh (edited July 13, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by ericnh (edited July 13, 2000).]

    [This message has been edited by ericnh (edited July 13, 2000).]

  2. #2
    JMP17 Guest


    As far a I know they would have the right to do this, but certain this would have to take place in order for it to be done.
    1. If there's not a drug screening for new or any member for the matter in your bylaws one would have to be set up.
    2. this would have to be brought to the members describing the method that would be used I.E. Random or full Departmental testing.
    3. A time would have to be set up for the start of the program, usualy 60-90 days.

    The ambulance service I work for has tested fo two years now, my voly Dept. does not.

    Take care & stay safe & clean, tested or not.
    ( no refferal to you Brother)

    [This message has been edited by JMP17 (edited July 14, 2000).]

  3. #3
    bob1350 Guest


    Our dept. has randomly drug tested for almost 3 years now. The city requires it. The volunteers are randomly selected on a quarterly basis. Drug tests are held during our Wednesday night trainings by a mobile unit that shows up. That is the only time they test. Yoy can be removed from a call and tested for drugs/alcohol if there is reasonable cause for suspicion. The city has all the right in the world to do this due to liability and insurance, plus they're going to pay a big part of my pension. And yes, we are technicly employees of the city when we are involved in any fire or fire related activities.

  4. #4
    Capt. Skippy Guest


    One of my favorite topics: Big Brother and the War on Drugs!

    Lets take a look at a couple of issues here. Does your employer have a right (legal issue aside as it has pretty much already been settled by the conservative courts, lets speak of morals and ethics as well as the consitution) to pry into your life outside of the time frame that you are on "his" clock? (No matter if you are paid or not) In my opinion - H@#$ NO!

    Now comes the arguement of "Would you want a fellow firefighter working with you who was high?" In my opinion - H@#$ NO!

    Well, would I also want a drunk firefighter working with me? H@#$ NO!

    So, lets apply some common sense here. If a firefighter should show up drunk to a fire, would you take action. The response should be "YES!" The same applies to a firefighter who is "high". But do I have a right, as an employer to determine if this firefighter drinks off the clock to the point of being drunk. No, I do not.

    But, you argue, drugs are illegal. Hmmm, lets see. So is driving when impaired with alcohol. Do we test for that? Speeding is illegal also, do we test for that outside of the time on the clock? What about firefighters using illegal fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July (since the 4th was very recent)?

    When does it stop first of all? Secondly, are we winning the "War on Drugs"? In the 32 years I have been walking this planet, it seems that each year the US government spends more and more money on this pet project and we keep hearing and seeing that this problem is getting worse. Sounds a lot like prohibition, doesn't it, and that did not work. Besides, experience has shown me that an employee with a drug problem will "weed" themselves out of a job in one fashion or another (such as being absent until they have no more time off remaining for the year and it is only March).

    In my opinion, pre-employment testing coupled with testing for cause (showing up high, being involved in an accident) are more than sufficent. Random testing is a waste of my tax money or a businesses' profits. No one looks at the costs involved in administering these programs. Time lost while reporting somewhere to pee in a cup or have blood drawn. The costs paid to the lab and the person or persons who have to be in the "chain" and have to handle the urine or blood from crade to grave. The cost associated with all of the paperwork involved. This money could be going towards more imnportant items such as additional firefighters, training or equipment.

    I guess each day I see George Orwell's nightmare come closer and closer into being for the "good of the people". When does it stop? All states now mandate that you wear a seatbelt, or you will be cited for not doing so (not that I am against seatbelts, mind you. They save many lives). But, swiming is dangerous, you could drown. Driving a motorcycle is much more dangerous than driving a car. Mountain climbing could kill you as well as horse back riding. Where and when will the line be drawn that the individual's freedom out weighs the government's right to interfere?

    I know the arguement, the governement is by the people, for the people. That the people elect the representitives and senators who do the people's bidding. If you really believe that any more, I suggest you get in the line forming for the next illegal drug use test!

    Remember - Safety is a way of Life!

  5. #5
    JMP17 Guest


    There's one deffenent thing behind most of this "money" a company and recieve reduced insurance and workmans comp. rates for emplementing a drug testing policy. That BIG BROTHER thing again? MAYBE.
    Stay safe & take care of each other!!!

    Opinions expressed are mine and may not be those of my Dept.s

  6. #6
    Capt. Skippy Guest


    In regard to JMP17's reply - "That BIG BROTHER thing again? MAYBE."

    I might remind you of Kosovo, Nazi Germany, WWII Japan, the Spanish Inquisition, the Christian Crusades all performed in the name of a "higher calling" for the "benifit of the masses" endorsed by the government or led by the government. History will continue to repeat itself until the masses are willing to challenge the "popular" ideals of the time.

    It is easy to agree with what appears to be right and popular, I suggest that the employment of logical thinking is always prudent.

    The RICO Act is another item our government is employing in the war against drugs. Did you know that if you are stopped by law enforement and have a large sum of cash on you (lets say you just pulled out $5,000 from your savings to go purchase a fishing boat from a private individual), this money could be deemed to be "drug money" by the officer and confiscated on the spot. Now imagion you are black, what do you think the odds are of this happening? A very similiar situation already happened in Columbus, Ohio (in early 1999 I think it was) to a NBA player, only this was $10,000 cash and it took him nearly a year and a lot of lawyer fees to get back his OWN MONEY!

    I believe that Big Brother is not as far fetched as some may believe. Some may think I'm a crack pot for these statements, but Power corrupts without a doubt. It feeds people's egos and they push beyond the limits that many others hold themselves to in the performance of their jobs. The freedom that we enjoy in this country has to be constantly guarded by each and everyone of us. Or we may find ourselves without any freedom.

    Remember - Safety is a way of Life!

  7. #7
    ENG 6511 Guest


    I love this thread. Being a trial lawyer for almost 30 years, for the first time, I now know some Fire House lawyers. Before this I've only heard of Jail House lawyers.

  8. #8
    Capt. Skippy Guest


    ENG 6511 - I'm surprised your willing to admit being one.

    I must ask though, when does a person's philosophy and opinion on morals and ethics have anything to do with the practice of being a lawyer?

    Laws are a document written by a legislative body (according to Webster - all the rules of conduct established by the authority of a nation or smaller political authority) that when challenged are interpretted by the courts. Of course different courts have different opinions, based on the individual(s) setting on the bench (and of course previous rulings, which where based on someone's opinion - sometimes referred to as "legislative intent"). Of course the legislative body can introduce a new law to "bypass" a previous court ruling or clarify a vagueness in a previous law.

    Looks like the answer to the question is always. So I guess you are right, if anyone of us have an opinion, we are qualified to be a lawyer! Thank you, I'll start billing for my opinion at a rate of $200.00 an hour right away!

    Of course Webster defines a lawyer as "one whose profession is advising others in matters of law or representing them in a court of law". Funny, I don't recall doing either one of these things here is this post.

    Apparently you missed my first comments in the first post "legal issue aside as it has pretty much already been settled by the conservative courts, lets speak of morals and ethics as well as the consitution". Granted, I did mention the consitution, and you may have interpretted this as my being a firehouse lawyer. But, as a citizen in this country, I have as much right as you or a judge to interpret the legislative intent of this document along with others and then to press my representitive in congress to introduce legislation based upon my opinion of that legislative intent in order to change or clarify something I feel is incorrect. Government by the people, for the people, is it not a wonderful country?!

    Remember - Safety is a way of Life!

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