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2 Detroit fire officials suspended after alleged incident involving alcohol on duty

Detroit Fire Department generic
Posted at 7:19 AM, Feb 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-15 07:19:56-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Two members of the Detroit Fire Department have been suspended after an incident allegedly involving alcohol on the job over the weekend, according to the city.

The incident is the latest in a series of similar cases.

7 Action News confirmed that a disturbance over the weekend led to police being called to Hops & Barley Bar & Grill in Melvindale.

A fire truck was driven to the bar and a tip led to alcohol testing soon after. A firefighter was found positive for alcohol. He and his supervisor were suspended without pay.

After promising to do better, this comes as another disappointment to citizens of Detroit.

“You’re jeopardizing people’s lives,” Detroit resident Sheila Rice said.

She calls it shameful and dangerous.

“That’s going to impact your ability to perform,” Rice said.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan addressed the issue nearly a year ago.

“We’re not here to focus on who’s to blame, but how we’re going to solve it,” Duggan said in March 2021.

Duggan last year announced a new program partnering with the national union to help Detroit firefighters get counseling and other assistance after drunken driving crashes on the job.

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Interim Detroit Fire Commissioner Charles Simms said incidents like this don’t necessarily mean the program isn’t working.

“There are very few isolated incidents that happen. Along with our enhancements, we are going to have a more robust (Employee Assistance Program).”

Back in March of 2021, we reported an audit found stress and other factors led to numerous cases of drinking at firehouses despite zero tolerance.

“When we have these isolated incidents, we’ll do an investigation and hold people accountable,” the commissioner said.

Retired Detroit Police Department Assistant Chief Steve Dolunt, who previously worked in internal affairs, added this could have ended worse if not for a citizen calling 911.

“You can’t be driving if you’re inebriated. Were they there to pick up food? In uniform? Did they have a drink?” Dolunt said.

The commissioner is promising to have an investigation wrapped up in about a week and full transparency as to possible disciplinary action.

As of Monday evening, the union for the firefighters hasn’t commented.