Alcohol & Fire Trucks Don't Mix

What fire officer would let emergency apparatus drivers drink a "few beers" and get behind the wheel of a 26,000-pound fire engine? Members of the Bovard, Crabtree, Greensburg, Latrobe, Lloydsville and Youngstown fire departments in western Pennsylvania...


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Tenerowicz added, "He had to tell himself out loud where to go and what to do on the whole course." Rick loudly observed, "I am now at .10, DUI for any class license, and I am not yet to the point where I have been in the past in my personal car. I never knew or suspected. It is very scary." Rock then noted, "Rick is now out of the program for the day. He has to be told where to go on the course and what to do. He is finished for the day at six beers."

As the program continued, Rock noted that all of the participants were driving more slowly; the penalties were about the same but the drivers were being more cautious. He believes that's because they were aware of their condition and were trying to be cautious.

Stan downed three beers, which put his BAC at .057%, and he was ready for his second turn. "I know I should not be driving. I can feel it, I feel lightheaded and relaxed," he said.

Tenerowicz noted, "He was quiet and subdued the first time but...the whole way through he was yelling and screaming...telling himself how to go through the course. He says he can still handle the vehicle." Rock added, "His time on the first run was 135 seconds, second run 150 seconds with penalties. His driving time increased along with the penalties."

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The blood alcohol record shows the drivers physical characteristics, time, number of drinks they had and their % BAC. (Note: All 10 drivers exceeded the legal intoxication limit of .04% within one hour and each consumed only three beers.) The average alcohol dissipation rate was .021% per hour.

Lou, after six beers and with a BAC of .0999%, stated,"I don't feel drunk, I feel extreme tingling. Instructor Joe Mangini is asking me questions about stuff and it took my concentration. I told him to shut up...I should not be driving a fire engine. The interruption of the concentration is the worst thing."

Ray, with a BAC of .14% after six beers, wobbled toward his engine. His backup was performed well but he knocked down a cone on alley docking. He was driving too fast and dragging a cone. "I knew I was drunk going into this run but I had to go anyway," he said. "I had no sense where the cones were unless Joe Mangini told me where to go. If I had been by myself, I would have never made it. I was scared. I am glad that I am done."

After six beers and with a BAC of .091%, Doug was driving noticeably slower but showed no outward signs of drunkenness. Doug said he feels "OK - yep, I can drive." Tenerowicz said, "He can go some more, he is OK to drive." Doug weighs 245 pounds and had eaten two cookies for breakfast.

Stan crawled back into the pumper with a BAC of .104% after six beers. He stopped six feet short on the dock trial but on the whole didn't perform badly. After completing the course, he started to laugh and said, "There is no way I should be doing this. There is no way a fireman doesn't know when he is drunk." Rock noted, "He didn't know what gear the truck was in or where to go. Pete had to tell him everything."

Rudy, the heaviest of the participants at 240 pounds and who ate pizza for breakfast, had a BAC of .073% after seven beers. He appeared competent but became confused at the end of the course, trashing many of the cones.

Lou had a BAC of .142% after eight beers and sped down the course on his final run. He had two cones under the engine but performed the dock stop well. Tenerowicz noted, "He wants to go wild and crazy. He thinks he can do anything in this engine."

Brian, with a BAC of .126% after six beers, took out four cones in the backup, otherwise he did well. Mangini said Brian drove fine but fumbled a bit. Brian said he's "definitely drunk, no doubt about it," and felt he was incapable of driving.

Mike had a BAC of .92% after six beers. He was not quite intoxicated but he said, "I am a little shaky and I take more time to do the course and I must be a little more careful." He was allowed to continue.

Doug consumed nine beers and his BAC was .122%. When he drove the course, he didn't knock any cones down but Mangini attributed that to Doug being very cautious. Doug said, "It doesn't matter, I know I am drunk. Just because I get through the course it doesn't matter because one mistake and you kill someone!"

Bonney said, "The real danger is if something happens and they couldn't be able to stop…Mike could drink seven beers and drive his car, according to the law.

Wrap-Up Observations