Nebraska Firefighters Target Of Drug Investigation

July 26, 2008
Two Lincoln firefighters are being investigated on suspicion of taking narcotics from their job site.

LINCOLN, Neb. --

Two Lincoln firefighters are being investigated on suspicion of taking narcotics from their job site.

Police said the drugs may have come from medical supplies on city ambulances.

A firefighter may have used some of the drugs -- medical supplies -- carried aboard ambulances for his personal use, said Lincoln Police Chief Tom Casady.

Police said that they started investigating the first case in early July. Fire officials came to them after a firefighter on duty at Station 1 appeared to be suffering from some type of narcotic reaction, Casady said. Investigators began looking at another employee following a tip from the public just a few days ago.

The other case were drugs that were administered to and left with a patient, Casady said.

No arrests have been made, but Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler is already calling for random drug testing for all fire personnel. The screenings could cost the city $14,000 a year.

There is an expense to random testing, the mayor said. There is a privacy-invasion issue, but in this instance where there is such a danger to the public, I think it's incumbent upon us and worth the price.

We want to prevent anything like this from happening in the future, said Dave Engler of the Local 644 fire union.

Engler said the union supports random testing and wants to assure public safety.

Our firefighters are very upset this negative attention has been drawn on such a good organization, Engler said.

Lincoln Fire Chief Niles Ford agreed. He said that's why he will review all procedures to reassure the public.

All my firefighters get a dark shadow and that's not reasonable and that's not fair, Ford said.

The firefighters under investigation are not being indentified. One is a paramedic. The fire chief said that both are not functioning in the fire service at this time, but provided no further details.

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