The Station; No Place for Drinking
Some old-timers argue that a slightly intoxicated firefighter was a better firefighter when the bell tipped and it was time to wear your manhood on your sleeve. Air packs were new, and seldom worn, bunker pants were not even a thought and the people who called you were not concerned with a little beer on the breath of their salvation. Times are different now. Fire Department personell are in people’s homes at all hours, tending to the sick and injured as well as putting out their fires. We are held to a higher standard; drinking on duty is unacceptable.But it happens. It is neither condoned nor practiced out in the open, but like every other segment of the population there will be those who succumb to temptation. The firefighter who brings his or her addiction to work is playing with fire, but is unable to control it. Never is the need for professional help more vital than now. Even if nothing happens, and the firefighter “gets away with it,” the destruction of self-confidence – vital to a firefighter, will be the undoing of a valuable asset to the service and a decent human being. There is no getting away with such a breach of confidence, but there is redemption. Action is essential. Nobody relishes confrontation, but confront the problem we must. Facing our own fears and weakness takes courage, just as bringing those flaws to the attention of another does.
Drinking at the station is easy; being intoxicated at work is not.
As the disease of alcoholism progresses, the ability to self-correct diminishes. Seeking professional help is a far away fantasy for the active alcoholic, much like those unfulfilled dreams of lavish vacations, nice cars, happy homes and fulfilling careers. A person in the throes of the deadly thought patterns that have been bred by dependence on alcohol is vulnerable, and truly a danger to him or herself and others.
These desperate people need help, but how?
Just because we are firefighters with an enormous responsibility to ourselves, our co-workers and the public does not automatically make us immune to poor choices and behaviors. The thought of being impaired in the slightest is abhorrent to most firefighters.
I believe that ALL firefighters think that being impaired is unacceptable. Sadly, the disease of alcoholism tends to think for itself.
Even the most well intentioned alcoholic makes poor decisions. Getting help before a problem becomes catastrophic is crucial.
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