1. #1
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    Question Alohol in the fire service

    I've been a volunteer firefighter for over twelve years.We have all seen different things come and go.But lately I have found more and more fighters coming to fire coming to the fire scene on apparatus or personal vehicles.When I realized that my department had a real problem was on the early morning of june 28th.We responded as a fast team to a surrounding town for a fully involved structure fire with an elderly couple trapped on the second floor.Upon arrival we had firefighters bailing out windows after locating trapped occupants,with CPR in progress we were put to work and relieved by another fast team.I noticed one of the guys that rode with us and he seemed extreamly clean for a fire that bad.After talking to the firefighter i noticed his alter mental status.Asking him what the problem was I was told from other guys at the scene that he was removed from the fire scene for being intoxicated.I can't think of anything worse at that time was if this clown had to do a search or dare I say back us up.I can only imagine what could of happen.It turned out to be a bad night with losing both occupants and twelve fire fighters going to the hospital.After bringing this up at the next department meeting.It was agreed that changes had to be made.I was put in charge of the committe to come up with ideas on how to change this thing around so nobody gets hurt.I'm looking for ideas from you guys out there.Got any advise?

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    easy. do a search, this has been discussed numerous times.

    in a nut shell, no firefighter who is drunk should respond to any fire call.

    also, any firefighter who is drunk and does respond to a fire call should be dismissed immediately.

    hope that is a good start.
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    This topic has been covered a number of times. Most of the time degenerating into name calling. We have a simple potocol on the subject:

    No member will respond or attend a call:
    When under the effects of alcohol, prescription or non prescription drugs. A member breaking this protocol will be suspended and his/her equipment will be confiscated.

    I would rather have 5 sober FR / FR on a call than 20 intoxicated.
    "My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea." - Tommy Douglas 1961.

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    Reminded me of a local FD i went to sign up for and i saw them drinking at the bar they had in their building. I wasnt happy seeing that. Its one thing if yer gonna drink, hey no problem. Dont showup for calls, and dont do it in the building. Heck the place im at now won't even let you SLEEP OFF your intox at the building, if your in the building you are available for calls. I like that, its more safer and doesnt give public wrong idea when they see you walking into your FD with a bunch of beer.
    Adam, EMT-B

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    Just to play devils advocate here...

    Diabetic reactions sometimes have similar traits as being intoxicated.

    Anyway,
    We have had issues in my department very similar in the past. If I get home, sit down for dinner, and drink half a beer, then get tapped. Does that make me intoxicated? Should I not go and be used? Where do we draw the line before not responding? With the amount of drugs like meth, cocaine etc., that are available, who’s to say "Fireman Bill" isn't on anything like that?

    Don't get me wrong I am not condoning any abuse of substances
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    I somewhat agree with Waterbry. I'm sure most of us agree, when your drunk, don't come. But if I had a beer for lunch? And if that is too much, how long should I wait? There are a million different senerios I could play out, and it all falls in that grey area. Hopefully we can all use our best judgement. We have one F/F that will come to the station, and tell us that he had a beer a bit ago, and ask us to smell his breath. If we say we smell it, he has no problem going back home, or sweeping while we are gone. Just my 2 cents.... Stay Safe Out There Everyone!!

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    I go by the rule

    1 drink, 1 hour

    For every drink i have i will wait an hour before driving.

    If im drinking, i can't ride for 8 hours from the time of my last drink at the agency i volly for in NY. Im pretty sure its the same kinda thing in NJ although ive never read any WRITTEN rule. Written rule we have on drinking is if we are in a bar, we cannot wear squad logos/identification material. I guess they had an incidenct in the past.
    Adam, EMT-B

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    Quote Originally Posted by tfpd109
    I somewhat agree with Waterbry. I'm sure most of us agree, when your drunk, don't come. But if I had a beer for lunch?
    Airline pilots have an eight hour rule. "Eight to the gate" is what they call it.

    That is the very minimum for a firefighter reporting for duty whether they be career or volunteer.

    And the very least we should expect as individuals entrusted with the public's safety.
    Last edited by scfire86; 02-14-2006 at 06:28 PM.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    what kind of action does your department take to discourage this kind of behavior.We have SOP's but the penalty doesn;t fit the crime sometimes.Need feed back and ideas to toughen up the rules so we don't attend a funeral.

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    My department has a rule, if you are legally intoxicated by Georgia's (our state) DUI law, then you should not be on the scene. After all you had to DRIVE to get there, and letting you stay on scene is considered codoning drinking and driving. But if you are found to be under the influence, we ask our sherriffs officers to escort him from the scene, and treat him (or her whatever the case may be) as he would any other civiallian. Later we request their radio, gear, and if they have one, their medical jump bag. We prefer that even if you are still legally able to drive, and you've been drinking to not come anyway. We don't want the community to get the wrong idea about its public servants.

    Again, there is no leeway here, "illegally" intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle = immediate dismissal

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    Quote Originally Posted by RVFD506
    My department has a rule, if you are legally intoxicated by Georgia's (our state) DUI law, then you should not be on the scene.
    My department has a rule also. If you report for duty intoxicated disciplinary action will be forthcoming. And possible termination.

    And we DON'T have bars in our stations or anything that even remotely looks like one.

    Another reason why volunteer firefighters continue to emulate their professional counterparts in being their own worst enemy.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    We are a 100% career department. I can tell you what our policy is...ZERO TOLERANCE!

    Come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and you will be looking for a new career!

    We have random drug and alcohol testing as well as a policy for testing personnel under circumstances of "reasonable suspicion".

    There is NO PLACE on the fire ground for ANY intoxicated firefighter! Period!

    If you have a beer with dinner...STAY HOME!




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    From the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board website:

    People Who Should Not Drink Include:

    Driver or somebody who is operating a motor vehicle. By this time we should all know the dangers of mixing alcohol with a moving vehicle. Even one drink can slow down your reaction time and impair your vision.

    People who are working. Alcohol prevents a person from working at their top level. If you are operating heavy machinery, or are working in a dangerous location like scaffolding or a roof, you're putting your life and others in jeopardy.


    Doesn't sound like someone that I want to have around on a scene. They are endangering their crew and the citizens we are there to help. If you have a drink, turn off your pager and stay home.

    I believe that if you die in the line of duty and there is alcohol in your system your death benefits could be denied to your family. I'm referring to the Federal Public Safety Officers Benefits. I'm sure that someone will correct me if I am wrong on this
    Tom

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    Stay safe out there!

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    Quote Originally Posted by fireman4949
    We are a 100% career department. I can tell you what our policy is...ZERO TOLERANCE!

    Come to work under the influence of drugs or alcohol and you will be looking for a new career!

    We have random drug and alcohol testing as well as a policy for testing personnel under circumstances of "reasonable suspicion".

    There is NO PLACE on the fire ground for ANY intoxicated firefighter! Period!

    If you have a beer with dinner...STAY HOME!
    Kevin
    Ditto. My department is also ZERO TOLERANCE. I look at this issue very simply. There is no room for alcohol and firefighting. I know this issue has been debated many many times. BUT...not enough has been done to eliminate or prevent the incidents that are a result of a firefighter having alcohol on board.

    How many station houses still have alcohol on premises?

    How many departments have not adopted a ZERO TOLERANCE policy?

    The answers are...NOT ENOUGH! You can have all the rules and policies in place but if alcohol is still in the house...the encouragement or potential is there. If off duty personnel are at the local establishment wearing department clothing and carrying a pager...the encouragement or potential is still there. Disclipine in today's fire houses is already tough enough. We do not need to add fuel to the fire and then ask after the fact "Why did this happen?" or "What can we do to stop this?"

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    im not sure of yall's sop's, but in our dept. NO ONE is allowed on scene if alchohol has been consumed. it doesnt matter if youve had a sip, if your breath smells of alchohol, and you make the scene, on the apparatus or pov, you are suspended until an investigation is conducted. if you are intoxicated and show up to a scene, chances are you will be terminated.

    and as a side note, of course im not sure of yall's sop's, responding to a mutual aid fire pov, is a huge no-no. we dont even allow our FF's to respond to an in district call without permission from an onscene officer. again, some small depts may not have that choice and i understand.

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    Exclamation

    iv heard stories years ago having a flask in the glove box, but today even half a beer, if you show up on scene and get hurt or killed or kill someone else whats the first thing that will probably happen for insurance reasons, umm maybe a BAT the insurance co. wont cover you if they find alcohol in your system.
    did any one mention LAWYERS

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    Quote Originally Posted by PFDFIREDOG
    iv heard stories years ago having a flask in the glove box, but today even half a beer, if you show up on scene and get hurt or killed or kill someone else whats the first thing that will probably happen for insurance reasons, umm maybe a BAT the insurance co. wont cover you if they find alcohol in your system.
    did any one mention LAWYERS
    Liability concerns and the threat of a lawyer should not even be a factor in the decision making process regarding alcohol and on-scene duties. It should be COMMON SENSE! It is about doing the RIGHT thing to do, which is not to respond or show up for work if alcohol is on board.

    I am all for going out and having a good time, but I know the right place and time to do this. Gotta work within 24 hours? It's nothing but water for me.
    PRIDE & OWNERSHIP. Take pride in our chosen craft and take personal ownership in your actions and the decisions that you make.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frosty42
    Liability concerns and the threat of a lawyer should not even be a factor in the decision making process regarding alcohol and on-scene duties. It should be COMMON SENSE! It is about doing the RIGHT thing to do, which is not to respond or show up for work if alcohol is on board.

    I am all for going out and having a good time, but I know the right place and time to do this. Gotta work within 24 hours? It's nothing but water for me.
    PRIDE & OWNERSHIP. Take pride in our chosen craft and take personal ownership in your actions and the decisions that you make.

    I agree with you but I question your 24 hour deal. Lets see if you have a beer or 2 at lets say 6PM on Friday night and assuming your a volunteer FF and have no set work schedule for the fire department you belong to, you are saying you would not respond to a call until after 6PM Saturday BS talking about COMMON SENSE. Now lets say you get falling down passing out drunk sure 24 hours would be a minimum.

    Some one else said 1 beer, 1 hour per I totally agree and might even step up the wait time to 2 hours just to be really safe on my part or if better judgement tells me dont go until tomorrow morning, then pager gets shut off until then.

    Hey mister high and mighty have you ever been in on a dismissal hearing because of one of your FF doing just what were talking about? I have he is no longer on the department and will never be let back on this department, so going back to liability issues, you as an officer or if you have ever or will ever be one FALLS on your back, right from the chiefs all the way down to line officers. well like to keep going but going on cruise to miami dont have to worry about responding then do I!

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    I hate to play devil's advocate here but one time I accidentally swallowed a few ounces of mouth wash after dinner and I know it has alcohol in it.

    Played it safe and didn't consider responding for a couple hours. Maybe that was a little overboard/anal but oh well.
    FTM - PTB

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    Lightbulb

    8-12 beers and taking over the wheel is a little different( once truck was close to vehicle fire in woods dismissed FF whoes truck it was and knew how to get to it drove app. to site of fire, with fire personel in vehicle not knowing, until they overheard on scene and bystanders talking about how funny and what was going on.


    P.S. every one must have a BUBBA on their department
    Last edited by PFDFIREDOG; 02-17-2006 at 08:55 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PFDFIREDOG
    I agree with you but I question your 24 hour deal. Lets see if you have a beer or 2 at lets say 6PM on Friday night and assuming your a volunteer FF and have no set work schedule for the fire department you belong to, you are saying you would not respond to a call until after 6PM Saturday BS talking about COMMON SENSE. Now lets say you get falling down passing out drunk sure 24 hours would be a minimum.
    The minimum would the same as airline pilots. "Eight to the gate". One beer at 6pm. No response till 2am. If that is too much to ask, get out of the fire service. We (and the public) don't need you.
    Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."

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    Quote Originally Posted by PFDFIREDOG
    8-12 beers and taking over the wheel is a little different( once truck was close to vehicle fire in woods dismissed FF whoes truck it was and knew how to get to it drove app. to site of fire, with fire personel in vehicle not knowing, until they overheard on scene and bystanders talking about how funny and what was going on.


    P.S. every one must have a BUBBA on their department
    Were they Canadian or American beers Seriously I strongly believe in a zero tolerance level - especially for engineers, operators, drivers and especially for medical responders. I catch anyone who has had a drink on my truck - they will be bouncing across the hall. Todays liability issues make it simple - take responsibility for your actions and those of your co-workers. Any lawsuit is a bad lawsuit!

    How would you feel if your department funds got cut because of 1 stupid beer?
    -I have learned people will forget what you said,
    -People will forget what you did,
    -But people will never forget how you made them feel!

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    Talking

    So now we are sure that beer is outta the question.... Does that make whiskey ok???
    Giggity - Giggity!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave404
    Were they Canadian or American beers Seriously I strongly believe in a zero tolerance level - especially for engineers, operators, drivers and especially for medical responders. I catch anyone who has had a drink on my truck - they will be bouncing across the hall. Todays liability issues make it simple - take responsibility for your actions and those of your co-workers. Any lawsuit is a bad lawsuit!

    How would you feel if your department funds got cut because of 1 stupid beer?
    I agree ZERO tolerance onscene and like what some one said in earlier reply IF they had a drink (which now in a lot of states is .08 1 beer? CDL I beleive is .02) and they show up at the FH they can sweep,clean etc, but stay off the trucks!

    and yes whiskey and hard cider also,

    CHEAP american BUD,

    MMMMM CANADIAN BEER, MOLSON TRIPLE X = 48 hrs

    NYSmokey
    I believe that if you die in the line of duty and there is alcohol in your system your death benefits could be denied to your family. I'm referring to the Federal Public Safety Officers Benefits. I'm sure that someone will correct me if I am wrong on this.

    I do beleive this is true in the state of VT also

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    Obviously, no one is going to come on to these forums and say we should be allowed to consume alcohol and then respond. But the term ZERO TOLERANCE causes a big problem. Zero tolerance implies no mistakes being made by random drug testers, tainted results from blood or urine tests, and so forth. What about if I go to church and receive communion? Youre telling me I have to wait 24 hours before responding to a call? Thats assinine if you ask me.

    As for zero tolerance, I suggest everyone look up the name Kevin O'Sullivan. He was fired from the FDNY last year after testing positive for a trace amount of cocaine. He was fired even after passing two additional trace tests and a hair follicle test.

    But on a personal note, if you have had beer, or alcohol, I personally dont want you on the fireground, whether its been 1 beer or 12.
    Last edited by nyckftbl; 02-18-2006 at 09:00 PM.
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