The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) is calling for its 12,039 fire chief and emergency service members to adopt a zero-tolerance alcohol policy. The statement calls for firefighters to remove themselves from service if they have consumed alcohol within eight hours prior to the beginning of their shift, or if they are still noticeably impaired by alcohol consumed prior to that eight hour period.
Many fire and emergency service agencies and organizations raise funds by operating and/or renting their social halls. The IAFC is asking those groups to provide a distinct separation of facilities to help insure the zero-tolerance standard of alcohol consumption by their members who may be called upon to perform official duties.
“Many departments already have a policy in place that they are enforcing and the IAFC applauds their efforts. We believe that for the health and safety of our fire fighters, emergency service leaders and the citizens we serve that this policy should be adopted everywhere,” said Chief Ernie Mitchell, president of the IAFC.
The policy statement was adopted by the IAFC Board of Directors on August 14, just prior to Fire-Rescue International, the organization’s annual meeting where 16,700 fire and rescue leaders were in attendance. The full policy is below and available on the IAFC Web site, www.iafc.org/downloads/index.shtml
Zero-Tolerance for Alcohol and Drinking in the Fire and Emergency Service
This policy statement is most easily described as a “zero-tolerance” standard about the use of alcohol by members of any fire or emergency service 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 prior to the eight (8) hours, he/she must voluntarily remove himself/herself from the activities and functions of the fire or emergency service agency/organization, including all emergency operations and training.
No member of a fire and emergency service agency/organization shall participate in any aspect of the organization and operation of the fire or emergency agency/organization under the influence of alcohol, including but not limited to any fire and emergency operations, fire-police, training, etc.
No alcohol shall be on the premises of any operational portion of the fire department, including but not limited to the apparatus, the apparatus floor, the station living areas, etc.
Fire and emergency service agencies/organizations that raise funds by operating and/or renting social halls must provide a clear and distinct separation of facilities to help insure the zero-tolerance standard of alcohol consumption by their members who may be called upon to perform official duties.
All fire and emergency service agencies/organizations should develop written policies and have procedures in place to support and enforce this policy recommendation. Included in such a policy should be provisions for blood alcohol testing of any individuals involved with any accident that causes measurable damage to apparatus or property or injury/death of agency/organization personnel or civilians.