EMMITSBURG, MD-- It's too soon to tell if the names of the Boston firefighters will be omitted from the National Fallen Firefighters' Memorial here.
In August, Paul J. Cahill, 55, and Warren J. Payne, 53, were killed battling a restaurant fire in West Roxbury. The two Boston firefighters received full honors as fallen heroes.
Last week, several Boston news sources reported that Cahill's blood alcohol level was more than three times the legal limit for Massachusetts drivers. Sources also were quoted as saying toxicology results showed amounts of cocaine and marijuana in Payne's blood.
Statistics compiled by the U.S. Fire Administration show there have been previous incidents in which firefighters who died in the line of duty were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
"We have in the past left people off the monument for substance use," said Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation. "But, the decision rests not with us but DOJ."
Siarnicki said if investigators rule that the deaths in fact did occur during the line-of-duty, and their families qualify for federal benefits, the Boston firefighters' names will be added to the monument.
"On these cases, they hold the cards," Siarnicki said. "We will hold off until there's a ruling. They have to meet a certain criteria to be included."
Siarnicki declined to comment specifically on the news about the Boston firefighters.
In 2003, the International Association of Fire Chiefs issued a zero policy regarding the use of alcohol by responders.
The policy reads:
This policy statement is most easily described as a "zero-tolerance" standard about the use of alcohol by members of any fire or emergency services agency/organization at any time when they may be called upon to act or respond as a member of those departments.
Basically, if someone has consumed alcohol within the previous eight (8) hours, or is still noticeably impaired by alcohol consumed previous to the eight (8) hours, they must voluntarily remove themselves from the activities and functions of the fire or emergency services agency/organization, including all emergency operations and training.