Last week I went to lunch with some co-workers (non-FFs) and the discussion rolled around to my involvement with the FD. One of the guys said "well, you must have guys that just join the department for the drinking". This recalled to mind another comment by someone, some years back, who swore that ALL volunteer FFs drank at the station and "those who say they don't are lying".

In my department you might find a 6-pack or two if you look in every nook and cranny, but we really don't touch the stuff on drill night or after calls, or meetings. There just isn't stuff to touch. In the late 80s we had the converted soda machine that dispensed several brands of beer but we got rid of it because the Jr. FFs were becoming interested in the stuff.

So - what is your department policy or practice regarding alcohol in the firehouse?

NOTE: 10/16/09: I started this thread over two years ago to gather input from other volunteer firefighters on FFN as it was then. The new theme is, what steps can we take to make America's fire houses 100% dry?

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So whaddya do...? Is 1 really too many? Would you let a medic work your mom if you knew he had had 1"Old Style"?

I personally wouldnt mind.

Several larger, older fire departments (started in the 1800's old) still have in their rules that 1 wine or 2 beers could be consumed with lunch and/or dinner. Did they know their own limits back then or were they ignorant? Or were there just less lawyers?

Theres a stigma that comes with the fire service that we are some sort of borderline alcoholics who fly down the street with our sirens blaring and beer cans in our turnouts. We all have heard stories or seen first hand the "soda machine" with the one "grape nehi" button that really only despenses MGD. So what? Most departments have been dry for years but the publics preception still hasnt changed. While this topic has a great many twists and turns all sides should be considered. The chief needs guys to man apparatus, not drunks. The community who may help pay for equipment/wages/vehicle insurance has an expectation to call 911 and have a sober civil servant help them out.

A paid guy is still a man in a house, not a prisoner in a cell, and in my opinion should be allowed a ration, be it 12oz of beer or 8oz of wine with a meal. OR near beer if he can stand the taste. A volunteer can come and go as he pleases. While responding from home if hes had a bottle of Mickey's after mowing the lawn, so be it. This is america and the flag is still flying.

The mortal danger one flirts with is when the assumption is made that more than one beer is acceptable. I believe in the brotherhood up to a point but would not hesitate to ask a cop to do a breathalizer on a scene if I felt another firefighter was impaired, and god help you if you are. While keeping a secure, out of the public eye, supply of beer and wine for the men could seem justifiable on a career (24hr shift) department it would seem harder to justify the same for guys not readily employed by the department. Drinkin one with a meal is one thing but hanging out and drinking while waiting for a call looks bad. You hit someone going home in your own p.o.v. after drinking with the boys at your station and someone is going to fry your ass and the department. Theres bars for that. After 1 you really should consider your status for the evening. Stay and drink (by all means) or stop drinking and respond, just not both.

BTW, I think wearing your duty shirt or pager into a bar is a bad move too, looks tacky and gives the wrong impression. If the tones go off would you respond from the bar after several witnesses watched you down a jaeger bomb? Might be askin for trouble. Wear a different dept's shirt in as well. Not that they get blamed for something you did... its just not your company's colors.

The stigma of drinkin and driving wont ever let the beer with a meal rule happen in the fire service. Theres too many lawyers who would love to hang one of us out knowing that we had a beer with dinner before the apparatus vs car crash. Theres some folks on here that will say Im a nut for even suggesting it. Am I? Id like to pose a question to them:

Do you except signed refusal-of-service forms from people who have had 1 beer? Or more than one beer? Is a patient capable of signing off AMA while you or your medics know that the patient had been consuming ETOH? I may blog that later...

Please don't get me wrong> Some are Responsible Drinkers, others do it for a Sport< hope you get the picture i was trying to take. Our Lives Depend On It.
Don't get me wrong yes there is a time to drink, but trying to do a Public Service while being intoxicated is not the time. At our House we have a motto> Everyone comes out and goes home ALIVE/body>

Respectfully, I disagree. If you are a paid firefighter, having alcoholic beverages during your shift wouldn't be acceptable. As with everything else in the world, you give and inch some take the mile. Before you know it, someone who has an addiction would be sneaking in booze and drinking it on shift, and the excuse would be that the department allows drinking.
Plain and simple, its a horrible idea to allow ANYONE paid or volunteer to show up on scene under the infleunce. It reeks the word lawsuit, and will compromise the safety of all the responders there. We can sit back and say "what an idiot" when we see a drunk driver who wipes out 50 feet of guard rail, yet we should turn our heads as our own brothers and sisters drin and then show up? Develope no tolerance. Your off time (for paid people) and your ability to "choose" which calls you go to as a volunteer give you more than ample time to enjoy a beer or cocktail.
If you drink, stay home.
I totally agree!

One of the problems we have is a public view that we are drunks, lazy, sitting around all day, and wasting tax payers money.

The last thing we need to do is add to that perspective. I know that you can not please everyone but I don't think a dry fire station is to hard to comply with.

I don't even drink on my days off much less on duty.
Holy COW!!! Zero tolerance is right! Some Medical services even have a 24 hour "sobriety window" prior to your shift. I don't drink the night before I work and NEVER drink during a rotation. I feel as though I need to be 110% for my patient's.....I most certainly wouldn't want someone fighting for my life while squinting through a hangover, however slight! This issue should be a no brainer!!!!!
Well, for years our chief had what I thought was a great policy. What he choose to do was this. If you had been out drinking and for some reason couldn't or wouldn't go home, you could crash in the bunk rooms........just not respond to any calls (of course). He didn't want you drinking at the fire department but if he walked in and you had it disguised (in another cup for example), he wouldn't say much about it. This practice worked out great while it was instituted, it meant that the station would not have an empty weekend, that's for sure. Well, he resigned a couple of years ago and our new chief didn't like this practice. He barred all drinking of any kind on the grounds and implemented a policy that if you were caught here and had been drinking (whether you were actually drinking at that moment or not) you'd face disciplinary actions. That rule didn't last long, I'm not sure what all happened but just last summer he opened up provisions to his policy (i.e: letting us feel up the coolers with ice is one example). While I do not like the drinking here at the station because of public relations, I do not see a problem with having someone bring you here to sleep it off. Has always worked, that I've seen.
I belive the fire station is not a good place for drinking. there is to much of a chance for bad things to happen. once the bell rings everyone runs drinking or not its too much of a risk.
I don't know of any jobs that allow alcohol consumption on duty. You can be sure I am not allowed to have a drink while on duty as a nurse.

Teachers downing a brewsky (sp?) in the teacher's lounge ... bus drivers glugging at the bus stop .... cops can forget the donut shop and just stop at the bar!

There is no way drinking on the job can be allowed.
I believe liquor distributors (Northcoast in Valpo, IN) allows their tapper techs, sales guys, and bar rep gurus 12 or 24 oz of beer an hour, on the clock after lunch. Thats the guys driving company cars, doing sales, maintaing high pressure beverage equipment.

Now these cats arent dosing up peds patients or pushing morph. Thats still gotta say something though.
so what your saying is since beer companies allow their drivers to consume alcohol while doing their jobs, that it's ok for firefighters/ems? Truely I am lost in your logic. If a beer company allows their drivers doing deliveries to consume drinks while working, wouldn't that be against the law? (driving with an open container) Wouldn't they be DUI? Wouldn't they be publically executed if one of their drivers got in a crash and their "policy" unearthed? The answer is ABSOLUTELY. The idea of someone being allowed to drink a beverage an hour while on duty in a non emergency role has no relevancy to this discussion. We are expected to be consumate professionals at every call. The public rely's on us, and we need to rely on each other.
"Now these cats arent dosing up peds patients or pushing morph. Thats still gotta say something though."

Yes, it certainly does - those firms are one step away from a world of hurt if they continue letting their employees drink while on the job. Driving company cars, meeting with customers, working on HIGH PRESSURE equipment? Hellooo?

There's absolutely no reason I can think of why any employer would allow his/her workers to do that.

If I were to be seen drinking while on the clock, or suspected of doing so, I would be shown the door - period. Just a quick exit interview and buh-bye.

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