1. #1
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    Default Kentucky FF's may have been drinking

    The Jessamine County Fire District is investigating allegations that volunteer firefighters were impaired by alcohol or drugs when they responded to fire calls or accidents.
    I thought I would start the thread.......I'm sure we will be discussing this BOMBSHELL...should the allegations prove true.

    Innocent until proven guilty...so I reserve comment until the investigation is complete.

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    Default Bad Apples

    Regardless if these allegations are true or not, it is a fact that SOME volunteer firefighters do things that are just stupid and endanger fellow firefighters and the people they are trying to help.

    I know that there has been a lot of discussions about volunteer v. career, but I admit that career has its advantages. One being that things like this SHOULD not happen (at least not as readily as with volunteers).

    However, I wish that the media would make it know that there are more volunteer firefighters that are professionals than not. It is a shame that the volunteers that do these stupid things (drinking, arson, racing firetrucks, etc), are what is mostly known about volunteers.

    The same is true with career, a few bad apples spoil the whole bunch.

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    Common Sense should apply to eveyone in the fire service, Career or volunteer IF YOU DRINK, DO NOT BOTHER COMING TO A CALL, YOU NOT ONLY ENDANGER YOURSELF, BUT EVERYONE ELSE INCLUDING YOUR BROTHER FIREFIGHTERS. Untill that is drilled through everyone's head we are still going to have this occur.
    Any incidents like this kills the public image of firefighters, and it does not matter how much damage controll is done.

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    Default Before I begin, I cam not condoning or advocating drink and duty

    What exactly constitutes a "drink" for this Dept, or any other like it? Is it one beer with a nice meal at home, or a skinful where you can't speak or walk in a straight line properly?

    If these organisations have a clearly defined alcohol (and drug) policy, then fair enough, you want to drink, you turn the pager off, you do not come to calls. If not, do they then run the risk being seen to "allow" staff to guage for themselves if they feel "sober" enough to turn out?

    How many of us can say, hand on heart that they may have gone to a call under the influence? By that I mean several hours after your last drink and are feeling a little hungover. I know I have, probably well against my better judgement. The problem is, especially for volunteer or part time fire services, the lines are a little blurred, no pun inended, on how much an organisation can impinge on your rights as an individual. To give a bad example, one of the rights of a US citizzen is to bear arms, that being the case..."Who do people think they are if they are gonna tell me I can;t have a beer in front of the ball game and not go to a call?"

    On the flip side, how many of us may have turned out feeling lousy with the flu' and doped to the eyeballs on stuff the chemist says will make us feel better in a couple of days? how do small town fire depts legislate for that, given that asking someone who give up their time freely to give a sample every month may prove difficult to say the least?

    How many small volunteer depts would loose valuable staff if they started saying the crew could'nt have a drink when on call, without the back up of a written policy on the matter?

    Its a Catch 22 situation and one which will not be solved easily, to either the services or an individuals benefit in the short term.

    As I said at the top, I am in no way condoning or advocating that people drink & go on calls. The issue at hand I feel is not that people do, its because theres nothing to stop them doing it.
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    "Regardless if these allegations are true or not, it is a fact that SOME volunteer firefighters do things that are just stupid and endanger fellow firefighters and the people they are trying to help."

    I don't want to start up the vollie vs carreer subject but this is not a volunteer issue, it's a stupidity and leadership issue. Stupid acts on the firegrounds are not limited to volunteers. It wasn't all that long ago that an engineer for a big city fire dept (all career staff) caused a major accident, wrecked 2 rigs and injured civilians in the vehicle that he hit while operating a class A pumper on cocaine.

    Can you operate a volunteer dept and put limitations in writing concerning alcohol and use of drugs? YES. we do. It's simple. if you've been drinking, don't respond whether it's one sip or a whole case. You're a liability and not an asset on scene besides the fact that you'de be breaking the law getting there (DUI). If you do respond drunk, be prepared to turn in your gear. It's that simple! We also have a drug testing policy if we suspect use, endorsed by county attorney's.

    If you have members that don't want to play by those rules, let them go and replace them. Are they really the ones that you want representing your dept in the public eye anyway!

    Don't think of yourselves as volunteer's but as unpaid professionals. The training, level of service provided, public image and expectations are the same regardless if your paid.

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    Its a Catch 22 situation and one which will not be solved easily, to either the services or an individuals benefit in the short term.
    Oh, it's solved easily enough; you open a beer, you turn off your damn pager. What's so hard to understand about that?

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    Default

    Before this crap starts again...
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    What exactly constitutes a "drink" for this Dept

    One thing Martin, segments...large segments...of American society can be very intolerant of alcohol consumption in contrast to parts of Europe. Some are teetotalers around the clock, others are simply "one drink is too many when operating anything."

    I worked for a while for a major French-owned corporation, and it was really kind of weird that we could not only drink when off-site at lunch but we could put it on the company credit card. The employers before and after had strict no-drinking during work hours, never on company property with more than 0.04%, and the company *never* paid for alcohol during company functions. This French firm was fairly relaxed by current U.S. standards in the U.S., and back in France as in many factories there wine was served in the factory lunch lines. That's something you just wouldn't see in the U.S. outside of maybe the breweries themselves.

    My personal standard: One beer, no calls for an hour. Two beers and I'm off-duty till morning.
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    Dal, I agree with you that there are great differences between European and American attitudes to drinking, however I must diagree that we have a more relaxed attitude towards the subject. bars, or pubs as we call them have been a mainstay of the "British way of life" since time immemorial, but at the same time over the years we have become more stringent in our approach to the sale and licensing and availabilty of alcohol. (Our licensing laws are still based on ones introduced in the First World War). Our drink/drive laws in the UK are some of the most punititive around, altough I will admit the "threshold" for being impaired is higher than the USA, however, it is a nationally applicable standard, unlike the US where each state may have its own. There are echelons of UK society for whom drink and work do not mix. The UK fire service is one and we have pretty tough regulations for anyone falling foul of that.

    What is at stake here is not the fact that people have a drink, its the fact that there is nothing to stop certain groups of people within fire organisations having a drink and still responding if there are no rules and regulations to prevent it. Without the most basic of stipulations that firefighters of whatever level cannot have a drink and be on call, you will never eradicate this problem.

    Part of the issue I think is that many volunteer services, never know who may be available when a call comes in. I have spoken to many such firefighters in the US and Canada and what always strikes me as odd is there is no system such as we have where the individual and the station know exactly who is on call and when. Without such a system, people will always feel the need to respond, possibly when not fit to do so as they never know who else may or may not come in.

    To give an example, my service runs a computerised availablity system, which totals up each crew members available time on call. If a crew member wishes to take a night off, he/she can do that and the OIC is aware, simply by checking the system, who will come in at any given time. Obviously the rider to this is some US depts do not all attend the station when a call arrives, responding directly to the incident, however, having a system such as this means that everyone knows when they are off call, and there is not the pressure placed on individuals to respond as they willknow thre is adequate cover.

    This incident will not lie down and die, unless the Fire Depts themselves grasp the nettle and promote good practice and standards by ensuring regulations are put in place, the chance, temptation, or just the opportunity to have a drink and respond will remain.

    Leaving the choice to individuals will never work.
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    Update on this story:

    The chairman of the district's board of directors has resigned after reporting his findings to the board and getting no support for continuing the investigation. It's been dropped, with no apparent intentions of further review. Board says everything was in the form of anonymous tips or other unsubstantiate-able (?) forms that wouldn't hold water.

    In a related story that's further away from the Lexington media, some firefighters in Clay City, KY were suspended (one quit) after showing up at a structure fire under the influence. No real details on the level of intoxication.

    The TV story said there were five firefighters on the call. I'm speculating here, but I wonder if maybe the department's staffing problem at that particular hour of that particular day may have prodded the vols to show up even in their condition. (Three of the five had been drinking.)

    This reinforces my old rule: If you're drinking, don't leave that pager on, thinking "I'll just listen in if they have anything," because that leads to the temptation to respond when the fire is big, manpower is short, the call is close by, etc.

    If you don't have your ears on, you won't be tempted.
    I am more than just a serious basketball fan. I am a life-long addict. I was addicted from birth, in fact, because I was born in Kentucky.
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    "The chairman of the district's board of directors has resigned after reporting his findings to the board and getting no support for continuing the investigation. It's been dropped, with no apparent intentions of further review. Board says everything was in the form of anonymous tips or other unsubstantiate-able (?) forms that wouldn't hold water".
    Seems to me there is only one reason for dropping an investigation of this kind. There was truth in the allegations and the Board did'nt want to have to deal with them
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    Indeed Martin, and the attitudes I'm sure vary country to country.

    My general impression in Europe is more tolerant of moderate drinking, and less tolerant of abuse in a more reasonable/consistent way. The U.S. tends to have extreme camps of never-do-it and ah-screw-it while those in the middle just shrug their shoulders and shake their heads.

    U.S. States by the way are nearly uniformly 0.08% for drunk driving. It's a little end-run around our Constitution the Congress uses frequently -- the states can set whatever they like, but if it's not 0.08% they lose tens or hundreds of millions of dollars annually in highway construction & maintenance funds from the federal gas tax. The same financial penalty was what was used to mandate the 55mph speed limit in the mid 70s to mid 90s.
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    There was truth in the allegations and the Board did'nt want to have to deal with them

    And the sad thing is, "deal" with it could be as an easy compromise as saying yes, the existing allegations are hearsay/second-hand/whatever so we're going to put them off to the side.

    HOWEVER, from this date on let's be very clear on what our alcohol policy is, what our investigative process is, and what our policy is in following up promptly on all complaints or questionable situations. Slate is now clean and equal for everyone -- but we're going to be marking it carefully and consistently from now on.
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    Default July 22nd

    Fire district chairman quits over handling of investigation
    lelbbry
    NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. (AP) - The former chairman of the Jessamine
    Fire District said he stepped down in protest after the board
    spiked his investigation into allegations that some of 60 volunteer
    firefighters had consumed alcohol on the job.
    "I had gathered most of the information I needed to present to
    the board, and it was presented, and the board decided not to take
    action on what was presented," said Dave Eldridge, who resigned as
    chairman on July 14.
    Board member Gary Sorrell said the investigation died because of
    lack of evidence.
    "There just wasn't any evidence to substantiate anything,"
    Sorrell said. "We had no live witnesses or anything."
    Under state law, the chairman of a fire protection district is
    responsible for conducting an investigation to determine whether
    there is "probable cause" of inefficiency, misconduct,
    insubordination, violation of law or of the rules adopted by the
    board.
    Eldridge, whose term as chairman would have ended in August, is
    still a volunteer firefighter.
    ---
    Information from: Lexington Herald-Leader,
    http://www.kentucky.com

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    An investigation into whether volunteer firefighters were impaired by alcohol on the job will be reopened. The Article

    At least somebodys got the ****s to look into this.
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    Originally posted by NJFFSA16
    [B]An investigation into whether volunteer firefighters were impaired by alcohol [/URL]

    At least somebodys got the ****s to look into this.
    And do something about it, to wit: "We're going to get the stink out of this fire department," Sorrell said.
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    Sorrell compared that unidentified firefighter to Osama bin Laden
    Sorrell is clueless. Sorrell is a politician. I'll bet Sorrell is a Mutt.
    "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?

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    Default allegations of intoxication

    : Jessamine County Fire District allegations

    The fine citizens of Jessamine County and its fire district members have been subject to relentless bashing from the media for weeks. First reports listed allegations of responding to calls from the community while intoxicated. Then the media escalated the charges to include drug abuse. Now we have gotten to the point where we are accused of threatening the lives of others which is a felony in this fine state.

    The job of a firefighter is one of the most personally rewarding careers an individual can have. This is a profession of helping. How many jobs can you name where you can go to work and be of service to people continuously? Whether it is rescuing people from a burning building, caring for their medical needs, extinguishing fires in a home or rescuing a cat up a tree, this profession is all about helping others. When you become a firefighter, you become part of a family. The firefighters you work side by side with become as close to you as your own family members. There are not many jobs as rewarding as a firefighter the camaraderie, the helping of others, having pride in what you do, and just an overall good feeling about yourself. Firefighting demands a high level of dedication and professionalism. A firefighter must possess the courage and stamina to risk their lives for the sake of others. The community calls on its firefighters for help in time of need and we respond no matter what the situation or risk to personal safety may be. We are in the business of saving lives and property not placing them in jeopardy

    As a firefighter in this community I know that not one single citizen will believe any allegation of threats against ones life are legitimate. The media (especially our own local news tabloid) needs to stick to the facts and report them after investigating if they have any merit not just because it is dramatic. The only thing I as a firefighter in this community have to be ashamed of is the FACT that a few of my brothers have lost sight of why we do what we do and have had their vision blurred by politics and power.

    Frank Ruggiero
    Firefighter
    Jessamine County Fire District

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    Post Thank you Frank!

    Please keep the forum members updated on the investigation into these allegations. Can you enlighten us on any of the specific details of these allegations?

    NJ
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    Default Re: Thank you Frank!

    Originally posted by NJFFSA16
    Please keep the forum members updated on the investigation into these allegations. Can you enlighten us on any of the specific details of these allegations?

    NJ
    None of the firefighters have been told who are being accused of what? Now it seems that the local newspaper and television has all the information on who is the accused and who the accusers are. None of the accused know....none of the district firefighters know, other than what we hear and read in the media. Funny thing behind all of this is the Chairman of the Board who resigned after the board took no action, is also the publisher of our local newspaper. The allegators include our Assistant Chief (who ststed he did not come forward for two years because he felt threatened by other firefighters if he persisted in filing complaints). The media has been reporting more and more allegations on a daily basis. Including an anonymous tip to the ISO about the district lying on a report stating the fire district coverage for the county. The Chairman of the Board and the Assistant Chief along with two other accusers prepaired the report for the ISO. Did I mention the fact that The Chairman of the Board held a seat as a firefighter representitive on the board. He was up for re-election. His term was to end in August. He lost the re-election. Did I also mention that after he did not get re-elected he held a press conference which started the whole ball rolling with the allegations. He made statements to the Press without the Fire Boards knowledge or approval. This handful of firefighters who attempted to overthrow the current rank structure in our department nust really think that the residents and firefighters of our community are as stupid as they are. The sad part of all of this is how this community has suffered from blow after blow by both local and national media coverage. Our residents do not deserve this treatment.

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    Default Re: Re: Thank you Frank!

    Originally posted by jcfd245
    Funny thing behind all of this is the Chairman of the Board who resigned after the board took no action, is also the publisher of our local newspaper.
    In my opinion....BINGO! I think you've found the link beyween the allegations and the media.

    Keep us posted.
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