San Francisco Firefighter Placed on Leave for Alleged Drunkenness

A San Francisco firefighter who allegedly got so drunk that he missed an alarm call has been placed on leave without pay—but not without raising serious questions about the department’s mandatory overtime policies.

The firefighter, who has not been identified, was called in for a 24-hour stint after his regular shift on Aug. 2. Though this would cause him to miss a previously scheduled doctor’s appointment, he was unable to appeal the work order because he had already refused three previous assignments (the limit).

Presumably angered over this injustice, the firefighter apparently did what any of us—well, maybe none of us—would do: He hit the bottle and became so sloshed that he missed an emergency call. When firefighters returned to the station, they found him obviously intoxicated, and a Breathalyzer test later revealed a blood alcohol level four times above the limit for on-duty firefighters.

The firefighter’s union is defending the employee, who recently completed a 28-day alcohol rehabilitation program, because it says he never should have been forced to miss his doctor’s appointment. It argues that excessive use of mandatory overtime is a serious problem for the department, which currently has 350 vacant positions.

While Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White declined to discuss the case in detail, she said the department is already working successfully to reduce mandatory overtime.

Read more about the incident here.

Image Credit: Flickr User gazeronly, via (CC BY-ND 2.0)


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