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Thread: Alcohol and us.

  1. #1
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    Default Alcohol and us.

    Now that a Vol. has been killed by another Vol. under the influence driving to a call, we need to do some soul searching and house cleaning. I will probably make enemys here, but we need to talk about this on this forum. I like beer as much as the next man, but it has no place durring a call. That young girl did not deserve to die and now our service will be blighted for a long time. We have enfough problems already just being Vol's. our image is now tarnished because of a brothers actions. Why was he driving??? Why did they keep him on the driver list after 1 conviction, let alone 3 ??? Any thoughts?


  2. #2
    Forum Member RyanEMVFD's Avatar
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    While I'll agree that it needs to be discussed, but it doesn't need to be discussed here. It should be discussed at your fire station. Posting thoughts here won't change anything in the real world. We'll probably never know why the driver was driving with those convictions but I know that it will not happen on my department. Any DWI conviction bars someone from joining let alone driving any emergency vehicle.

    I feel for the firefighter's family and department. This was a senseless loss. One that shouldn't be forgotten anywhere.
    NREMT-P\ Reserve Volunteer Firefighter\Reserve Police Officer
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    MembersZone Subscriber NCRSQ751's Avatar
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    Exclamation ????

    I'm amazed that it seems all departments don't already have policies on this. VFIS has pretty strict policies on who you should and should not let drive your vehicles. Anyone with a DWI (even far in the past) or in any way under the influence shouldn't drive.

    Did that department have such a policy? Who knows, but even if they DID it doesn't mean that someone can't break it. The law doesn't stop people, why would we think another rule will?

    I guess the solution to this (partially) is to instill a lot of pride in your members that might dissuade such actions - but the bottom line is that it can happen to any department anywhere.

    It takes ONE careless act by one member to do.

    I can't see any department saying there members won't ever do something stupid. I can't imagine it in one of my departments - but I have seen enough reality in this world to know that it's always possible.

    Personally I'd do anything I could to prevent someone from driving when they shouldn't. I certainly wouldn't get in with them. I'd rather send an ambulance back to my building for the drunk than to call one for the wreck... or be dead for that matter. I'm sure you all agree with that. We're here to preserve life, not take it.
    Susan Lounsbury
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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    If you have been drinking, don't respond. Very simple rule.

  5. #5
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Good Morning America!!!

    I was just scanning the forums and saw this post....

    DO NOT MAKE THIS A VOLUNTEER ISSUE!!! It is a problem that exists nationwide and one that must be aggressively addressed! We all know of stories of larger paid departments that "Knock back a beer" on duty. Truth or Fabrication.....who cares???

    Alcohol and the fire service do not mix in any way. I encourage those of you that read this to think outside the box...(not just as volunteers) and go to the main thread in "firefighters forums" and provide your input there.

    In this case there are more issues than just what happened. It is how it was allowed to happen.

    Facts:
    >Man convicted of DUI
    >Violated parole and was sentenced to weekend jail
    >suspended for violating alcohol policy at least once by Department
    >Department does not allow alcohol use on property but has bar on property.....(contradiction in terms?????)
    >With acknowledge of drivers drinking problem, Fire Department Officials took no action and continue to turn the other cheek. Also, apparently a DUI convition calls for suspension of driving privelidges according to Department/City Policy...Why was he still driving?
    >At least one other person who was there that night knew driver was drinking

    This could very well happen in any Department in the world. We need affirmative action that will stop this horrible tragedy from happening. It was not an accident.....it was MURDER!
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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  6. #6
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Department does not allow alcohol use on property but has bar on property.....(contradiction in terms?????)
    Ya know Cap, you keep putting this out there. From what I got from the articles, I think their policy is that no alcohol when responding, during work details, meetings, and such. The available alcohol is for "non-duty" time. We have this same policy and it works for us. Not gonna say it works for everyone. We have 3 main rooms in our building - truck bay, meeting room, back "break" room. No alcohol in rooms 1 and 2...period.

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    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    I am both a volly and a career FF. I believe that alcohol has no place in the firehouse, period.

    As a career FF I have never, repeat never encountered drinking on the job. Has it occurred at some fire departments? Honestly I don't know. But I can tell you at the 2 career FD's I have been employed with it has NEVER been allowed, EVER.

    I have been a volly on 2 different FD's and continue to volly where I live now. The place I am now removed all alcohol from the station around 15 years ago. It is only allowed in the station for our annual Christmas party. On that occasion the Chief asks for 6 or 8 guys who will not be drinking to staff the trucks. The others do not get on a truck for a call that night. Irregardless of the nature of the call. If those assigned can't handle the call we use mutual aid.

    The other volly FD I was on had beer after drills but it was brought in that night and removed from the station after the after drill meal. Alcohol was also served at the Christmas party and staffing was handled similar to the volly FD I am on now.

    My personal opinion about alcohol in the FD? It has NO business there period. If, and it is a big if, we attempt to portray ourselves as professionals how do we do that when people know we are drinking in the publicly owned building that we also respond from to save their lives and/or property? What image does that project?

    Or how about the guys who doll up their pov's with lights and stickers and FF license plates and then park in front of the bar? What image does that project when they respond from the bar?

    Bones42...if that "back break room" is open to your members 24/7 how do you stop people from drinking at the station? How do you stop them from responding? If a bar in a firehouse is a must for your organization, my opinion is it should be locked and only during social events, with an alternate staffing situation established, opened for drinking. Anyone who has been drinking and attempts to respond should immediately be suspended. NO EXCEPTIONS.

    I just have one basic question for all of you who advocate alcohol in the firehouse...What do you need it for?

    Take care and stay safe,

    FyredUp
    Last edited by FyredUp; 06-05-2003 at 08:12 PM.

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    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Ok Bones42....I hear you and if it works for you then that is good.

    Apparently it does not work for New Castle. I know a lot of departments raise money through firehouse bars. The problem I have is with the enforcement of the "rules" that forbid you to participate in activities of the fire department while under the influence of alcohol. In this case this lack of enforcement or ignoring the violator caused a death.

    In one of the Chief's first interviews (unless I read it wrong) he said the Department did not allow members to consume alcohol on the property. He did not clarify it further by saying this meant during certain times. Most states have a "duty to act" policy. When you are on the fire department property you are subject to the rules of the department (in most cases) and have a duty to act if there is a call. In other words when you are on the propery you are (or should be) expected to respond to calls for help. If you and a buddy are in the bar and a woman comes screaming in, saying that her child is trapped in a burning car down the street from the station....what do you do? You have a duty to act....and if you don't you are liable...if you do...you violate department policy... It is a NO WIN Situation. Why set up to fail in this manner?

    In this case the on site bar was not the source (so they say). But the fact remains that a man convicted of DUI was allowed to continue to come to the fire station under the influence even after being suspended once for it. It continued until he killed someone.

    Is this his second DUI or are there more? Has his driving priviledge been revoked now? Is he suspended pending the outcome of the trial?
    Last edited by captstanm1; 06-05-2003 at 08:24 PM.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
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    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  9. #9
    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    I'm all for any no alcahol policy in any department and back it to the hilt. (Easy when I don't drink at all, I guess!)

    A bigger issue and way harder to control is what happens off duty.

    I guarantee in all areas of employment, not just emergency services that there are plenty of people coming to work still way over the limit or suffering from the effects after a heavy night on the booze or other recreational substances....
    Last edited by lutan1; 06-05-2003 at 11:01 PM.
    Luke

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    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    Anyone who has been drinking and attempts to respond should immediately be suspended. NO EXCEPTIONS.
    FyredUp, this is how we prevent people from responding. We follow the rule. Members use the lump above their shoulders and decide, "I'll stay behind, otherwise, I will be gone."

    Capstan, (now I'm going to jinx us) but we have honestly never had someone walk up to the door for an emergency. In fact, PD asked us to remove the emergency phone that was outside our building because too many people were calling them for directions on it. What if a member is walking out of the bar and the incident occurs right there in front of them? Is there still a duty to act? This issue can be "what if"'d to death.

    I am not telling anyone they need to have alcohol in their firehouse.
    I am not telling anyone they don't need to have it.
    I am not going to even try an convince anyone either way.

    I said it before, I'll say it again. The problem is with alcohol and responding, not where the alcohol comes from.

    A bigger issue and way harder to control is what happens off duty.

  11. #11
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Bones42...

    All I am saying is why do you NEED it there?

    The mere presence of acohol in the station opens you up to scrutiny if there is an instance like the tragedy that started this thread.

    It is true that the alcohol is the problem, but having alcohol at the station aids the perception of drunken firefighters.

    Your system MAY work that your guys police themselves, but it has failed miserably elsewhere and destroyed lives and cost people there chance to continue in the fire service.

    I know I won't convince you and you will not convince me either. I sincerely hope that nothing ever happens because of alcohol being served at your firehouse.

    Take care and stay safe.

    FyredUp

  12. #12
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
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    FyredUp, we don't NEED it there, it's a choice we made. It can go away, not much will happen differently.

    but it has failed miserably elsewhere and destroyed lives and cost people there chance to continue in the fire service.
    Out of curiousity, where?

    I'm not being stupid here, I know of quite a few firehouses near me with these same policies and know of no problems with someone drinking at their firehouse and it resulting in a problem. I do know of problems that were caused by people drinking other places and responding. And THAT is the problem, drinking and responding. That should never happen.


    Stay Safe and keep the faith!

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    Stan, unfortunately this is a volunteer issue.

    Public image of volunteers in many places is we are a bunch of drunks with expensive toys. Our fire department has a no tolerance policy, and we are lucky enough that the majority of the people in the city respect us and what we do. The fire service will always be looked upon unfavorably by some people, you know the normal B.S. they drive to fast, they do more damage than the fire and so on. The last thing the fire service as a whole and especially the volunteer service needs is this. How can we forget the very publicized events of last year with training fire deaths, and volunteer ff arson reports that we seemed to see every week, and the great documentary on ff arson that was done last year.

    As a volunteer fire service we have been made to look bad to the public by incidents such as these. I feel we need to wake up NOW, and put this nonsense to an end. We can't afford to continue on this path.

    Stay safe.
    Proud to be IACOJ Illinois Chapter--Deemed "Crustworthy" Jan, 2003

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    Tradition in the fire service is very hard to change. Unfortunately drinking in the firehouse went on for many years and some are reluctant to let it go.

    Tomorrow someone could prove that grape juice is cheaper than water and puts out fires faster but it would take twenty years for everyone to switch....We always talk about brotherhood, taking care of our own, and protecting the public but actually all we do is point fingers, blame the vollies/paid, and in general make asses of ourselves.

    We (everyone in the fire service from the three call a year vollie to the 22,000 EMS run a year pros) need to band together to educate ourselves, the public, and our tax authority on the issues at hand. We cant do this with stories of arson, DUI/DWI, finger pointing, fist fights, and all the other stupid crap we pull....

    Sorry to get off thread. I am just tired of the same ole crap.

  15. #15
    Forum Member FyredUp's Avatar
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    Bones42....

    Where? If you want I am sure I can do some research and find an answer for you. But really why? If the incident in Wyoming isn't enough then what's the point? Even though the drinking wasn't done in the firehouse the bar in the firehouse is part of the contreversy. Do you wonder why? I don't...again appearance is everything and the bar gives the appearance of drunken firefighters.

    As far as your FD goes, do as you wish. Hopefully we will not have to read a national news story involving someone from your house involved in a drunk driving incident and the fact that you have a bar in the firehouse..

    This was an interesting discussion but it is going no where...so I'm through.

    Take care and stay safe.

    FyredUp

  16. #16
    FIGJAM lutan1's Avatar
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    We (everyone in the fire service from the three call a year vollie to the 22,000 EMS run a year pros) need to band together to educate ourselves, the public, and our tax authority on the issues at hand. We cant do this with stories of arson, DUI/DWI, finger pointing, fist fights, and all the other stupid crap we pull....
    Well said!

    Some events put us so high up in the publics mind then all it takes is one stupid incident and we're way back down the bottom again...
    Luke

  17. #17
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Angry FYI--For your reading enjoyment

    This article was posted in the "Firefighter's Forum" on the Wyoming Tragedy. Thought it added weight to my argument that this is not a volunteer problem....but it is a global problem!
    __________________________

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    PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - Fire Chief James Rattigan on Wednesday
    was suspended for one week without pay, after acknowledging that an
    alleged altercation with police officers was "unbecoming of a
    person of his rank," Mayor David Cicilline said.
    According to a police report, Rattigan threatened officers from
    North Providence and used foul language while he was being detained
    during an April 25 incident, the mayor said.
    The officers handcuffed and detained Rattigan because he was
    apparently intoxicated, but the fire chief was not arrested or
    charged, The Providence Journal reported. In a statement issued Wednesday, Rattigan said he had consumed a few beers and was walking toward his house when he was confronted by two uniformed officers who were responding to a report of inappropriate public behavior.
    "I was insulted and outraged by the mere suggestion that I had
    engaged in such behavior," Rattigan said. "Unfortunately, I was
    overtaken by my emotions and answered the police officers'
    inquiries in an unprofessional and rude manner." Rattigan also apologized in the statement. Cicilline said Rattigan understood that "if there's an incident or this kind of behavior in the future that he will not retain his position. Period." The reprimand is the latest in a string of disciplinary actions by Cicilline, who ran on a ticket of cleaning up a city left tainted by former Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci Jr., now serving a five-year, four-month prison sentence for racketeering conspiracy. Asked if he believed Rattigan's penalty was too light, Cicilline said Rattigan's "contrition to me and to the officers, and his
    acknowledgment of his wrongdoing and the suspension of one week
    without pay, is an appropriate remedy." Rattigan makes $104,683 annually, according to the city's personnel department. He was appointed by Cianci in 1995. In March 2000, Rattigan was charged with drunken driving after he crashed a city-owned Crown Victoria. The Journal reports the charge was later dismissed, but Rattigan had declined to take a breath test. He was suspended for two months.

    (Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
    Last edited by captstanm1; 06-12-2003 at 06:45 AM.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  18. #18
    MembersZone Subscriber ChiefReason's Avatar
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    Default Alcohol and who?

    You know; I don't care anymore where the alcohol is. In the station, in the car or at your local bar. IT'S WHAT'S IN YOUR SYSTEM AT THE TIME OF THE CALL THAT MATTERS!
    Every department is going to have to decide for themselves whether or not they want the stigma-that "black eye"-to continue. Every department will have to decide if they want to risk it all for the right to carry on a tradition of keeping beer at the station. Every department will have to deal with the PR of seeing their firefighters walking in, then staggering out of a bar, proudly displaying their department's colors as they do.
    Where we had an "understanding", we are now going to have written policy. And we are going to have another policy to address drivers' licenses. Each member must take responsibility in either case.
    The age old question comes up: do we have to legislate common sense?
    YES!
    The public is waiting for an answer. What are you going to do; take your beer and go home?
    CR
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