Hello boys!

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I love firemen! Heaven only knows (and so does my family), I love firemen. It is the uniform, it is the bravery when these men (and women) run into burning buildings when all others are going with their instincts and fleeing in the opposite direction. But most of all (and this sounds shallow, I know) I love the fire trucks! You know, they routinely drive past my house and in my mind, there is only one thing I say “Hello boys!”

Of course, together with my ‘fan-love’ of John Travolta (Hey, I said fan love, not fanatical love!), Ladder 49 is one of my favourite movies. I know it is very sad and it does an excellent job of letting us peek into the world of the firefighter – I get the movie. But boy, there is nothing nicer than the vision of John Travolta in a fireman’s uniform! MMMMmmmmm.

Recently though, the talk of the real firemen has been in the news. They have been renegotiating their contracts in Boston for a few years now (I think since 2006 but I speak under correction) and there are some contentious issues they are still trying to iron out. I support firemen in their call for higher wages, their job is dangerous and I support most of their other demands/requests. But there is one that I will not support them in – under no circumstances – mandatory drug testing.

Two firefighters died a few months ago while battling a blaze in a restuarant. I watched the funerals, I saw the grief on their families’ faces and I felt with them. They died in the line of duty – true heroes like their fellow fighters who lined the roads, carried the caskets and made the moving tributes. Then, a few days later, the autopsy reports came out and it was disclosed that there were levels of alcohol and cocaine in the blood of the two fallen heroes. My immediate thoughts were with the families. How terrible for them to face this scrutiny in the public eye during their time of grief. I was appalled that the reports were made public so quickly but it got me thinking.

What if those firefighters were coming to my home to rescue my children? Did I want them clean and sober when they arrived so that there was no margin for influenced human error when they were saving the lives of my family. Of course. They took on a very tough and responsible job and that is how I want them, tough and responsible. As taxpayers we deserve to know that there are no problems.

To be honest with you – I really don’t care what they do with their holiday time when they are nowhere near the station house but if they are going to report to duty, they need to be above board. I don’t think these results need to be broadcast to the public, but I think the powers that be need to monitor them. The job is tough, I know, but the consequences of not be capable of doing it properly are far far worse.

Recently another Massachusetts firefighter was caught in his uniform, in a firehouse car, smoking pot! What the hell was he thinking? He was on duty – what if there was a fire at your house and your family were relying on him to save them? The thought is too preposterous to even contemplate. Of course, and rightly so, the union has distanced themselves from him and he is currently in the court system. This type of situation we need to avoid.

So while I love the firehouse boys in all their glory, I expect them to be upfront, clean and sober. Wouldn’t you?

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~ by ski holidays on March 14, 2008.

3 Responses to “Hello boys!”

  1. We would expect them to be clean and sober, but the trouble around thesesare “clean and sober enough”.

    Is one beer too much? What about three? What is this guy is smaller that that guy…he can drink more and not be affected the same.

    This doesn’t even enter the realm of the possibility of false tests and union requirements for the frequency and administration of these tests and how the interfere with an individuals’ rights.

    There is no simple answer…and that is why we must rely on personal integrity and judgement and with all things considered, I am pretty comfortable with that…for now!

    Hopefully this situation was the exception to the norm.

  2. While I understand the rights of the individual and the fact that there is no simple answer, I do believe that personal integrity plays a major role when you decide to take on the job of fire fighter, police officer, doctor, paramedic etc, in that you understand that your actions and reactions can have an immediate and potentially fatal effect on others. My husband has always been a unionist (from days back in South Africa) and while I applaud the work that they do and the support they give their members, I do feel that my individual right to the assistance we need in time of trouble should too be considered. It is a difficult situation, indeed and one, I fear, will never have an ultimate conclusion and so I also hope this is the exception.

  3. You (and your husband) sure sound like you have seen quite a bit of this world.

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