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  • A rant about Alcohol at a Fire-related event....

    I wont mention names or places. Yesterday, I attended an event involving antique firetrucks hosted by a local chapter of nationally known organization that promotes the restoration and appreciation of antique fire apparatus. It was my tenth year as a safety officer at this particular event, which is renowned across the eastern seaboard as one of the greatest events of it's type anywhere, across the entire United States. It is held high in the spotlight of the antique fire apparatus world.

    For 10 years, I have been invited by this organization, to gather a few of my friends, and travel to their location and act as their safety eyes and ears. The National Parent organization requires certain parameters be followed, in order to maintain a safe environment for thousands of onlookers that attend. Things like pump pressures no higher than 70PSI, two wheel chocks needed, all deluge sets or unmanned hose lines must be tied down, etc. These regulations are required by the parent organization's insurance provider, which the local chapters tag on to.

    One rule of course is NO ALCOHOL allowed. Period. Additionally, the park which we were in was a City-owned park, and has strict rules forbidding alcohol.

    (**Before we go any further, for those of you who don't know me, I have a ZERO tolerance for alcohol in the fire service, by members who are on duty, in uniform, or may be operating equipment or riding equipment. This includes members at parades or wet-downs or other FD sanctioned events. My personal philosophy is that if you want to drink, take off your uniform, and get a ride back home. You will NOT ride on my apparatus and you certainly will NOT be placed into service for a minimum of 8 hours post-consumption. It is NOT up for negotiation. Anytime I was ever a company officer for a parade, my guys knew not to even ask.)

    In the last 10 years, we have never had a problem. Not one. Perhaps we have just never caught anyone, but to my knowledge, it has never happened. Yesterday, a participant approached the Safety Team's area to report that a group with a vehicle operating at draft was consuming beer. I approached the participants and sure enough, they had beer in paper cups- so they damn well knew what they were doing was a no-no. I asked to speak to the highest ranking officer, and a gentleman identifying himself as the Chief stepped forward. I took him aside, and introduced myself as a Safety Officer. I asked what was in the cup he was holding, and the look on his face showed that he knew he was fooked. He said "Beer." I told him "Dump it out NOW. Everyone else too. Have one of your guys remove the cooler from this park, and I dont care if you have to call someone from your station to come and get it. (Can't throw out the whole company which I wanted to, due to the physical location of where they were, and the inability to move them out without disrupting a bunch of other participants who would have to move their pieces) I continued with my rant by saying if they got caught again they would be permanently banned from the event.

    As I walked away, I looked at the Chief and said in a loud, irritated voice, "C'mon guys, you should know better."

    I was really bent out of shape. Why would this group of cretins risk getting the event (which has been in this City-Owned park for 35 years) thrown out of the park, or getting the insurance revoked (which would eventually lead to cancellation of the group's charter) or, god forbid, someone getting seriously hurt, all in the name of a few beers?Huh?

    Did I get carried away? Why do some people or organizations feel like they need to consume beer in order to have a good time? Is a Muster of antique firetrucks an appropriate place for beer? How about a celebration after a parade? Should members who arrive on Department Apparatus, who are in uniform, and are carrying their bunker gear with them, be allowed to drink?

    I am certainly not preaching total abstinence from alcohol, I myself drink socially, but whats wrong with just participating in the event with bottled water or sodas, returning to your firehouse, and heading down to the corner bar for a few if it is that important to you?

    Thoughts Please. Keep it civil.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  • #2
    There are those firefighters for whom "fun" and "beer" are very nearly synonymous. I would submit that the department in question probably has no problem with beer, etc, at other department functions, like maybe having a cold one after returning from an incident...

    You did the right thing, although I'm sure certain members of that department would disagree...
    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

    Comment


    • #3
      No you wasn't wrong. If they had the truck operating I would have made them shut it down until someone got there that had not been drinking or eight hours had passed. That would also include moving and driving the truck home. I'm also a big enough dick I would have called the police if they would have drove anything. What does drinking in public and being in uniform say to the general public. I'm sure there was children present, these mutts where sure being good role models.

      Comment


      • #4
        For me personally, I am totally onboard with you but I do know many depts who turn a blind eye to this type of shenanigans, unfortunately up this way, its nearly all volunteers. I would put this akin to a LE dept goingt out for a day of range and the Chief lets em drink beer. Not F---- likely.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by FWDbuff View Post
          Did I get carried away?
          Not in the least. The only thing I would have done differently would have been to stand there until they had complied.

          Whether they (or I) agree 100% with your opinions on alcohol and the service, if it was a clearly advertised alcohol free event then they damn well shouldn't have been drinking there. I've run large events at alcohol free sites and know well the potential repercussions of not enforcing the rules.
          "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
          sigpic
          The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

          Comment


          • #6
            No, I agree with you. Would have done the same.
            The most important task on the fireground is the one YOU have!

            Comment


            • #7
              ZERO tolerance

              Since the event rules state NO alcohol , the city park rules state NO alcohol, and the event insurance states NO alcohol, and they were trying to hide it by pouring into paper cups, they knew they were violating the rules and jeopardizing the event. They should have been made to shut their truck down and pull their hoses out of the river.
              I would venture a guess that their firehall has a bar in the building and it's accepted practice for them. Some areas are still living in the stone age.
              Make sure they don't receive an invite to future events for safety reasons.
              I might even inform the rest of the participants to let them know that this bunch of @ssclowns jeopardized the clubs ability to hold future events by consuming on the premises in direct violation of the regulations.
              Last edited by islandfire03; 07-11-2010, 09:36 PM.

              Comment


              • #8
                Alcohol

                From someone that has been offered a beer at a fire, along with other atrocities that I have seen firsthand of firefighters drinking at REAL fires, I agree with you.

                Alcohol does not have a place around fire appratus. Period. Whether its a muster, training practice or real fire, alcohol used by firefighters or other participants is a no-no.

                The general public requires us to do the right thing. Being alcohol free is one of them.

                The committee of this event should be reminded of the requirement of no alcohol.

                Comment


                • #9
                  We disagree on consumption of beer at the firehouse.

                  However, in this case you were 100% in the right, especially given the fact that you were on public property where this was not allowed.

                  Hard to beleive. We actually agree on something.
                  Train to fight the fires you fight.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                    We disagree on consumption of beer at the firehouse.
                    Oh god, why am I not surprised?
                    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by LaFireEducator View Post
                      We disagree on consumption of beer at the firehouse.
                      However, in this case you were 100% in the right, especially given the fact that you were on public property where this was not allowed.

                      Hard to beleive. We actually agree on something.
                      ahhhh and you call yourself an educator?????????? hmmmmmmmm What part of your statement is not the same. The only true "private"property is to drink in your own home, anything else IS public.
                      Am I being effective in my efforts or am I merely showing up in my fireman costume to watch a house burn down?” (Joe Brown, www.justlookingbusy.wordpress.com)

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        You were right on. It flabbergasts me that a "chief" would even try to get away with that. It's one thing to finish a class, change your clothes and go have a beer with your friends, IF you're not a dept vehicle. But you are representing the FD and all firefighters at any time you are wearing/driving anything that mentions FIRE (stickers, blue lights, t-shirts, included). If you make an ar$e out of yourself, you're bringing the rest of us down with you.

                        The closest thing we have is our union hosts a couple parties each year (St. Patty's is the big one). No uniforms, we have a private tent in the parking lot of a local pub and usually the cops will post someone there to make sure no one will be given the opportunity to drive drunk, although we do our best to police our brothers ourselves. Heck, union will even pay for a cab for you home if needed. But again, we're all off duty, no fire apparatus, etc. Most people only enjoy a couple beers and have a good time.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          You were too kind. I would have watched the beer get poured out, and then kept that
                          vehicle blocked in until they produced a driver meeting my 8 hours bottle to throttle rule.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Good job. Sometimes firefighters are their own worst enemies.

                            If someone cannot go a couple of hours without alcohol, they have a problem.
                            They told me if I voted for Hillary Clinton the president would be emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable. They were right. I voted for Hillary Clinton and got a president that is emotional, impulsive, and unpredictable.

                            I'm not saying you're stupid. I'm saying you have bad luck when it comes to thinking.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FWDbuff View Post
                              Did I get carried away? Why do some people or organizations feel like they need to consume beer in order to have a good time? Is a Muster of antique firetrucks an appropriate place for beer? How about a celebration after a parade? Should members who arrive on Department Apparatus, who are in uniform, and are carrying their bunker gear with them, be allowed to drink?

                              Thoughts Please. Keep it civil.
                              Not enough? Couldn't say. Possibly - for spectators only. (x) 2. No.

                              My dept., consuming off-duty, while in uniform, is a violation and grounds for punishment. That said, I have been, and with almost every rank, at some point at various functions. But they were pretty much where EVERYONE was FF or brass or family, not in front of the general public.

                              This was known to be a N/A function and N/A property ahead of time. The common courtesy/respect would have them abstain, until at least after the function if they want to retire to their favorite watering hole etc. The only questions I might have to make this (more) "forgivable" - was the actual operating crew drinking, or shall we say "uniformed spectators"? And were these senior guys who should know better, or young pups who need to be taught 'time/place for everything'? Either way they're wrong, but sometimes there's shades of wrong...
                              Opinions expressed are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Philadelphia Fire Department and/or IAFF Local 22.

                              Comment

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