How do you compliment the district policy without pointing out a few slips?

 

No organization is immune to human nature. Just because you are a policeman, mayor, CEO of a major company or even a fireman, things you may not be proud of done off the clock can have an impact in your career.

 

Statistically, there is a percentage of the population that drink and then drives. Recently there was a story in the news about a firefighter that had repeat DUI arrests. That is not why the media felt it worthy of reporting, though.

 

The surprising thing to many was the fact that while this firefighter was required to use an ignition interlock device on his personal vehicle, used to report for work, and as long as he held a current valid driver license, the fire department had no policy limiting his ability to drive those huge personnel laden fire trucks around the city. Though red lights. At high speeds. Weaving in and out of traffic.

 

He would simply park his ignition interlocked vehicle next to the station, then, at some point in his 24 hour shift, jump into the fire truck and race toward an emergency. No ignition interlock device required.

 

Now many, if not most, employers I know would somewhat allow the same thing, considering most employers do not require their employees to drive or the individual involved only used company vehicles on company property. The only restriction would be when the employee did not possess a valid driver license. Since suspended driver license is not the issue here, we will not pursue it.

 

However, what needs reporting is that Seattle Fire Department seems to regard the safety of the public a lot less than South King Fire & Rescue.

Human nature and the law of averages at play, on an occasion, or two, South King Fire & Rescue has had the uncomfortable opportunity to deal with an employee who had been mandated to have the ignition interlock device installed on their personal vehicle.

South King Fire & Rescue has a union contract with IAFF 2024 which includes what I will describe as a public safety clause. Really a responsibility and common sense clause.

 

Should a member of the union be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their personal vehicle. several mandatory actions must be followed.

Foremost, the firefighter must inform management of the requirement. And keep management apprised of progress through the courts if applicable.

And, the employee, along with union and management enter into a Memorandum Of Understanding.

That Memorandum Of Understanding has several features, including accountability, progress and term.

But what I consider the most important, from the public standpoint, is that the firefighter is restricted from taking or being assigned any role in the department as driver, or even possibly becoming the driver, of a fire truck or aid unit, while required to have the ignition interlock device in their personal vehicle.

The firefighter can perform their normal duties, except for driving, in what is known as the 3rd position.

 

Drunk Drivers at the wheel of South King Fire & Rescue Fire Trucks?

Not a chance.

Thank you, the men and women of South King Fire & Rescue, for recognizing that even the perception of having a driver with an interlock device in their personal vehicle sitting in the drivers seat of an emergency vehicle is bad policy, bad image, bad all the way around.

 

Unlike in Seattle, in our district, when that emergency vehicle is approaching, you know the driver is sober.

 

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