ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --
Get a DWI. Get fired. It's the new policy laid out for Albuquerque firefighters who get busted for driving drunk.
"It's time to take a stronger stance and do the right thing and put an end to it," said Albuquerque Fire Department Chief James Breen.
With eight firefighters arrested for driving under the influence since last year, department and city leaders said something's got to change.
"This tarnishes the badge of every firefighter who is out there doing a fantastic job and representing this city in a very honorable way," said Public Safety Director Darren White.
The new policy scraps the old "Memorandum of Understanding," put into place by the firefighter's union and former Mayor Martin Chavez.
The program allowed firefighters arrested for their first DWI to stay on the job.
As punishment, they were demoted and would lose a dollar an hour in pay; but could be reinstated after a year with no other infractions.
"It's clear that this pilot project was a miserable failure because it has not stopped the number of arrests for DWI," said White.
If a firefighter is arrested now, an internal investigation will be conducted. If there's enough evidence of drinking and driving, that firefighter will be terminated.
The department is also trying to be proactive with DWI prevention courses.
"We have an education program to make sure that people fly straight and do the right thing and make good choices," said Breen.
The internal investigation will take 7 to 14 days. During that time, the firefighter will be assigned to administrative duties.
The new DWI policy is similar to the Albuquerque Police Department's.
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