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NJ firefighters criticize plans that limits alcohol in firehouses

Lodi Borough Council would require approval for functions for alcohol, citing underage drinking as main concern

By FireRescue1 Staff

LODI, N.J. — New Jersey firefighters are criticizing plans to limit alcohol in firehouses.

The Lodi Borough Council has introduced an ordinance that would require approval for any function in which alcohol is consumed in the town's three firehouses, according to

Mayor Marc Schrieks said that the firehouses come under the borough's jurisdiction, so the borough needs to have control over what occurs in them.

There are also concerns about drinking by underage firefighters, Schrieks added.

"We all thought it was in the best interests to curtail the potential access to alcohol," he said.

However, Chief Darren Yuhas said the plans are "totally uncalled for."

The ordinance, brought into effect Tuesday, would require that the fire chief and borough manager be given notice at least 45 days in advance of a function in which alcohol would be served or consumed and provide details on the type of alcohol, the expected guests, and the names in charge of those providing alcohol.

Chief Yuhas said all alcohol is stored in a locked space, so the danger of underage drinking is unnecessary and that the drinking that happens in the firehouse is controlled and safe.

"It's not like we're down there every night having a party," he said.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Michele Logue Michele Logue Friday, August 24, 2012 1:35:52 PM Alcohol in the Fire House can be a problem, suppose you get a call and respond someone gets hurt the liability falls on the dept. The beer from our firehouse was removed years ago. No one should be out on a call if they are indulging in alcohol beverages. It's dangerous plain and simple.
Scott B. Hahn Scott B. Hahn Friday, August 24, 2012 1:39:17 PM On our department, we allow NO alcohol ever on the premises; additionally our people are asked NOT to respond EVER to calls if they have been drinking. Never has been a problem.
Eric Moore Eric Moore Friday, August 24, 2012 1:39:40 PM In my department if you were at the fire house you were considered to be on duty and you were not to consume any alcohol while on duty. Social functions were ALWAYS held off site.
Dana Behrhorst Dana Behrhorst Friday, August 24, 2012 1:39:44 PM there should be ZERO amounts of alcohol in any fire dept.I agree with you 100%!!
Becky Maddry Becky Maddry Friday, August 24, 2012 1:44:52 PM Good! We need no impaired firemen or police.
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 1:59:34 PM you guys are just bible belt ridiculous, it's fucking bullshit that we can run into burning buildings to help complete strangers and they are fucking worried about underaged drinking? So raise the joining age to 21, you all make me sick here.
Donald Bennett Donald Bennett Friday, August 24, 2012 2:01:46 PM like having hookers in the police station.
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 2:02:27 PM Never have we had a problem in New York firehouses where we still have bars in our house, which apparently is "unheard of" outside of that area. It seems you all have forgotten how to have a good time, maybe you shouldn't be in the fire service anymore.
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 2:05:39 PM and I bet we have more runs than you all.
Bryan W. Waagner Bryan W. Waagner Friday, August 24, 2012 2:13:50 PM Johnny, way to articulate your opinion with the use of profanities. If there is alcohol available there is always a chance for drinking and driving, underage drinking and responding under the influence. You are a fool to think some of your members haven't imbibed alcohol and then rode the truck to a fire. What happens when that guy dies? OSHA and NIOSH will be on your department and the experience will be unpleasant. I am sure that there was or is a problem in Lodi which was kept out of the news and this is why the ordinance is being passed. This is not the old days of social clubs and riding the tailboard. I love a cold beer just not where I work. You shouldn't either -volunteer or career.
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 2:18:39 PM excuse my profanities they were uncalled for, however I am still by my stance, firefighters, police, and military should get a card to drink 18 and older because of performing a service to their country, especially us volunteer ff who don't get paid anything, smh this is wrong and not the borough's business. Raise the joining age for ff to 21 then if so concerned, problem solved. In the meantime, myself and my bro's nd sis's in VS will continue to be responsible and still have alcohol in our houses, thank you very much.
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 2:20:46 PM what's wrong with that?
Stevo Winton Stevo Winton Friday, August 24, 2012 2:35:51 PM u fdny r just in a class of ur own lol but i agree if u have a prob knowin wen u should and shouldnt drink wen u shount b in fire service im a vol we can drink at the house but cant take med calls after first sip and cant do fire calls after 2 beers (usely takes u to a .08)
John Owen John Owen Friday, August 24, 2012 2:45:40 PM no not fdny but prob will be soon, im a volly in NY and MD
Stevo Winton Stevo Winton Friday, August 24, 2012 2:51:57 PM ah well im assumin ny does most of there shit the same and ive heard shit from fdny member let just say if ur in front of a hyd hose is goin in ur car window even it its rolled up and dont block their trucks unless u want a bumpper tap lol
Keith Enisle Hoyt Keith Enisle Hoyt Friday, August 24, 2012 3:14:07 PM Gone are the days of riding the tailboard, drunk, on your way to a structure fire. Its a zero tolerance policy that had to be adopted with all the Labor Standards and Workers Compensation laws. It isn't about not knowing how to have fun, or an age limit issue either. It is the public's perception of the Fire Service as a whole, that has changed. The microscope is on us, and it is up to us to live up to the higher standard placed upon us, or risk ridicule and lack of support by our communities. Fire Depts., large and small, across the nation are realizing the days of the "good ol boys" are dieing out. Kids, save the grab ass and drunk games for parties at home. Live up to the image of the local hero and try bringing up the level of perception of the Fire Service in your community.
Pete Miller Pete Miller Friday, August 24, 2012 5:34:01 PM How about allowing alcohol in police stations? It's allowed in some firehouses, so what's the difference?
Mike Young Mike Young Friday, August 24, 2012 5:37:36 PM What century are we in? Alcohol in the Fire house......really? And, Johnny......your comments......really? My faith in society just dropped a notch or two.
Billy Gillam Billy Gillam Friday, August 24, 2012 6:16:58 PM As far as I'm concerned, ALL alcohol shoud be removed from the stations.
Jerry Peterson Jerry Peterson Friday, August 24, 2012 6:53:49 PM Johnny, your age and experience is showing. Volunteer Firefighters are the heart of the majority of communities in the country. You are showing the side that can walk on water, and know when a sip is a sip and two beers is all you have had. I wish you luck in your firefighting career. May you never make a mistake with your alcohol consumption that causes harm to another, while you are on duty or off duty. When I have a cocktail I am off duty and I do not respond to calls. Please get some more experience and years under your belt. Alcohol is a drug, do not respond under the influence of a drug.
Johnny McGill Johnny McGill Friday, August 24, 2012 6:53:53 PM Johnny, I agree with your comment regarding 18 y.o.'s. If a person can be expected to be mature enough to have the "right" to volunteer to risk their life for public safety, whether paid or not, they should be mature enough to have the "right" to decide what to drink. However, please read what I am about to write carefully before responding. That same person should be mature enough not to tarnish the brotherhood of ff's by irresponsible actions. As a private citizen, I have a "right" to expect that when I drive I will not meet an impaired driver in a private and more so in a public vehicle. As a former chief, I had the "right" to expect any ff that showed up to training, meeting, or emergency scene not to be impaired. Because I would not know if they were slightly impaired or heavily and I did not have time to find out. If suspected, they were sent home and we would discuss it later. [this applied to drinking, legal drugs, illness, or any other reason.] They had the "right" not to show up without penalty if I didn't see them. Of course if it happened too often they would be dismissed. Thank you for apoligizing for the profanities.
Luigi Glover Luigi Glover Friday, August 24, 2012 6:58:01 PM Let them be human! LET THEM DRINK!
Michael Gallagher Michael Gallagher Friday, August 24, 2012 7:05:30 PM What's wrong with alcohol in the fire house, my department has a bar in it and people drink there all the time, the only thing is once alcohol touches your lips, you can't respond on any calls, which is something that my department takes very seriously. Lets look at the fire service as not just a way to help your community and do a public service, because its much more than that, its a brotherhood and you meet lifelong friends in your fire department as well, and what do you do with friends? You drink. Seriously, America is becoming a bunch of vaginas and I hope you all can see that.
Ken Colomba Ken Colomba Friday, August 24, 2012 7:57:52 PM Alcohol beverages have no place in any municipal organization that the citizens depend on for help. My question to the Lodi FD Chief is.... does the Lodi PD have stored and locked cabinet of alcohol? Is alcohol freely drank at Hackensack Hospital? Not when I was there. So what is the exception for the firehouse. I have seen in the past where alcohol in the firehouse has become the main cause for problems. Its time to put the big boy pants on and be responsible and not the exception.
Sunny Sonnenrein Sunny Sonnenrein Friday, August 24, 2012 8:09:37 PM Really?
Johnny McGill Johnny McGill Friday, August 24, 2012 8:27:50 PM Jerry, I guess that was to me. I've been a vol for 40 yrs. went from probie to chief to commissioner, including state cert instructor and CFEI
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Friday, August 24, 2012 9:47:12 PM This is the 3rd thread on different sites on this topic I am about to post my opinion on. You people need stop making assumptions, creating scenarios, and reaching to far into this report. It is simply just the council trying to limit liability. They are playing the what if game. I live in the area and bars are common place in firehouses. So it is not a big deal in NJ as other areas of the country others posting may be from. Lodi did not have an incident occur to prompt this move. Firefighters are governed by the same laws as every other citizen. They are not an exception nor do they expect to be. It is understood in my department, you drink, you don't respond. In a volunteer situation you are on call 24/7. Do you people really think a volly should never drink? Ever? Of course not. Each individual needs to be responsible and make the correct decision whether to respond or not while consuming adult beverages. If drinking at the firehouse is banned, what is the difference of members drinking in bars or at home. The responsibility is no different. Members will occasionally drink somewhere. They just have to know when to take themselves out of service. Simple as that, firehouse or elsewhere......
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Friday, August 24, 2012 9:52:35 PM The question is not what century but what area. In my area of the country bars in volunteer fire houses are common place. And respected.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Friday, August 24, 2012 9:53:59 PM In my department you are not on duty until you respond to a call.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Friday, August 24, 2012 9:59:22 PM The FD is volunteer with an optional response to a call for assistance. Volleys can declare their own down time. PD are paid by taxpayer to respond when needed, no exceptions. And you won't see cops at their HQ hanging out when not on duty. The hospital? Not going to even address that one. Apples to oranges.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Friday, August 24, 2012 10:04:50 PM There is a big difference Pete. VOLUNTEER vs Career. A volley fire fighter is not required to respond to every call for assistance. They declare their own down time and can be available 24/7 if they choose. Police are paid to do their shift work job by taxpayers. When they are on duty they are required to respond to any call for assistance. Apples and oranges.
Michael Turner Michael Turner Friday, August 24, 2012 10:16:39 PM People just cant wrap there finger around it. Other state fire houses I been to won't let there members even step inside the fire house just to hang out. It's all about watching out for each brother and sister that jumps on that truck and if you feel unsafe you as crew should tell him or her to stay back. These comments show how that the brotherhood is drying in most states. They just attack each other for no reason. And I know your fire house will be open doors for those Lodi members when they want to have a drink or two.
Patrick Ducey Patrick Ducey Saturday, August 25, 2012 12:27:47 AM all this shows how weak America has become, more people are concerned with liability and suing someone then the greater good, and to think i went half way around the world to fight for freedoms that people take away cuz it gets there underwear in a bunch
John Owen John Owen Saturday, August 25, 2012 12:56:00 AM dude what do mean what century? I catch more work than you and its the 21st don't play this.
Viola Crouch Viola Crouch Saturday, August 25, 2012 2:41:53 AM I see both sides! This is your home for a couples days and people drink in their homes after work. On the other hand how many other businesses with let you drink while you are at work? After all this is your job! Another side is if someone has a drinking problem and you bring in drinks you are not helping your "brother" to stay sober. Plus like Keith said Workers Comp is outragerous already.
Greg Forsythe Greg Forsythe Saturday, August 25, 2012 3:10:00 AM To me this is an other example of government sticking their nose in because there is the POTENTIAL for there to be a problem, not that there IS a problem, is POTENTIAL!
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Saturday, August 25, 2012 5:28:45 AM Viola, you just said it yourself. Work is work and your job is your job. Although these VOLUNTEERS work to protect their residents lives and property it is not their job! It is not a business. This is the fact I believe people are having a difficult time understanding. These fire houses in question are essentially a Knights of Columbus, a VFW Post, an Elks lodge, with a garage attached with a fire apparatus stored in it. The social club aspect is what keeps the volunteer brotherhood a float. These men and women have know better for years then to respond to an emergency intoxicated and this scenario is not even in question. And workers comp is not absolutely not an issue here.
Ron Kunschaft Ron Kunschaft Saturday, August 25, 2012 7:27:25 AM I think only 3's shouldn't drink. Those whack jobs can't handle their liquor! How DARE they have fun!!! BASTARDS!!!
Pete Miller Pete Miller Saturday, August 25, 2012 7:31:19 AM I very well understand this, as a 23 year fire and EMS dispatcher and a former volunteer fireman. However, alcohol and public safety should not be connected, even in the public's perception. Volunteer firefighters want to be perceived as professionals - presumably - so having a fully stocked bar at the fire station just doesn't like such a great idea.
Jimmy Williams Jimmy Williams Saturday, August 25, 2012 9:15:21 AM Wow, a bar in the firehouse! Really? You want to be seen as professionals, but see no problem with stating "bars are common in firehouses", SMDH
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Saturday, August 25, 2012 11:15:30 AM Pete, I hate to say it like this, but flat out truth is, alcohol and emergency services will forever be tied together. In my 17 years as a volley and my years as a career FF I've seen some horrible things. Burned bodies of victims we couldn't get to in time, kids ejected from vehicles, grizzly suicides, giving CPR to a victims that don't make it, child drowning recoveries, empty skulls after a man was hit by a train, multiple mangled train victims actually, rescuing a baby from a fire that passes a day later in the hospital, you name it. Images and faces etched into my memory forever. This is a tough calling. And to kick back with a couple drinks with the boys and try to console each other, to try an come to grips with what you just been a part of, what your eyes have just seen, and try get ready for the next time your called to action should be understood. Whether in a fire house or a local watering hole. And Im no drunk. I once didn't touch a drop for 2 years just for the hell of it. I also know many, many PD that struggle with these same types of overloaded emotions. Its stressful and part of the reason it is a documented fact Firefighters and cops have shorter life spans. The issue still is if you are drinking you are not responding. And that's exactly how these boys from Lodi that are now under the gun treat it. As do many, many fire departments in the area. Don't add to creating problems people. We have our own ghosts to deal with already.
Pete Miller Pete Miller Saturday, August 25, 2012 12:38:19 PM That's why "Rescue Me" hit close to home. Every character is dysfunctional...
Holly Larson Oglesby Holly Larson Oglesby Saturday, August 25, 2012 1:39:46 PM There is no alcohol in our station and hasn't been for many years. We are 100% volunteer and it is understood that if you have been drinking that you stay away. Zero tolerance has to be the way it is now days. Every one has a camera and/or video camera and in short order everything you do is on facebook or youtube. The labor boards and workman comp lawyers are peanuts compared to the civil lawsuit lawyers. Our job is hard enough to do sober and cover our butts against a law suit. Don't make alcohol a contributing factor.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Saturday, August 25, 2012 1:49:24 PM It is one of the few FACTs that have been posted in this thread. Maybe I should have just lied like everyone else. You are entitled to your opinion, of course. I am just merely trying to educate. In our area of the country it is accepted because it does not lead to problems. These VOLUNTEERS do act very professionally when responding and operating at emergencies. You and your opinion are the minority.
Ken Colomba Ken Colomba Saturday, August 25, 2012 10:03:25 PM Martin you are correct that you are a volunteer. No one asked you to be at the fire house or join the ranks of firefighters before you. But the question comes down to this did you join the FD to find a hiding place to do what you like or do you believe in being ready to serve your community as a Fire fighter. Times are changing and the days of irresponisble behaior are seeing their twilight. Let me point out one more community service the Ambulance Corps, they are volunteers do they sit around chuging beers while sitting at their building. You see it is not a question of volunteers it is a question of maturity and with that responsibility plus a level of expectation from your community. You either except and believe in the expectation of the community or find another place to hang out to have a good time dinking alcohol. It is just that simple! If this came to a referendum before your mayor and councile you know the way tax payers would want them to vote in Wallington and that would be just like your nieghboring lodi, NJ. By the way the Lead Chief who instructed my fire training class was from Wallington FD and I know how Chief Fourniar would feel about the question. This is not a apples vs Oranges debate. The tax payers fund your equipment and apparatus you just don't get paid. But the level of expectation by your community is the same as that of you PD and Ambulance etc.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Sunday, August 26, 2012 5:50:29 AM OK Ken, let me break down your response. I WAS asked to be a Fireman. Why would you think you knew that? And I accepted to join a brotherhood to serve my community, not for a hiding place. Truth be told, It wouldn't matter to me if a firehouse was alcohol free or not. Like you said its not why I do what I do. In none of my postings did I advocate needing bars in firehouses. I'm just trying to educate the mislead opinions so rampant on these threads. You speak of irresponsible behavior? Who was irresponsible? The members of the town in question in this article did not have an incident happen to prompt this move by the council. It is still up for discussion actually. And the proposed idea will regulate use, not remove the Bar. 100 years of tradition lasted that long because members evolved and their maturity and responsibility, as you mentioned, did as well. Your ambulance corps statement; although not as common, I can but won't name quite a few that similarly partake. I know my community excepts the situations in area firehouses. It's not a secret and in my town citizens are in and out of the firehouse for voting, community relations events, fire prevention, etc... They know and it's not been an issue. It's that simple. If its not broken why fix it. That is my goal with my posts. There aren't any new issues that haven't been around for over 100 years. And as for Leo, I guess you didn't know him too well. LOL. With your embellished descriptive wording of 'chugging' beers, he would probably say you sound like a child that wasn't invited to the cool kids party! One of his classic lines. And I still believe you original post is apples and oranges. And so does history. That's why there was never a bar in a police station.
Martin Kacz Martin Kacz Sunday, August 26, 2012 6:08:31 AM Amen Tommy!
Paul Messer Paul Messer Sunday, August 26, 2012 7:58:33 AM What toolbags!!! What year is this oh right 2012 we don't drink on the job at a fire station!!!!!
Jim Bateman Jim Bateman Sunday, August 26, 2012 6:46:40 PM Easy remedy. Eliminate ALL Alcohol consumption in ALL fire stations for ALL members. Traditions no longer apply, and safety MUST be the first object of responding to fires. Those who need, or want to consume alcohol, no matter how little. DO NOT BELONG on the apparatus, or firegrounds....period.
Ken Colomba Ken Colomba Monday, August 27, 2012 8:57:05 AM Well said!!
Carl Lewis Carl Lewis Monday, August 27, 2012 10:19:49 AM I would like to say something.I was in long island new york recently when I was doing research about vol. fire fighters in the areas. I was with some members interviewing them they were drinking an d having a good time I was with a lady friend getting more details and for no apparent reason I saw the company started to go after a man on a date getting attacked for no reason at all. the company were drunk and the man who was attacked had no chance and ended up in the hospital. the company hauppauge dept. members cowardly ran away and were caught afterwards for brutally and assault to a complete stranger the girl he was with she joined as well and said we protect the ground we worship here.
Carl Lewis Carl Lewis Thursday, August 30, 2012 7:56:34 AM Also get the facts straight before you try to accuse any f.d . companies
Carl Lewis Carl Lewis Thursday, August 30, 2012 7:58:15 AM before you post anything on this subject get the true facts first or don't bother at all.
John Owen John Owen Thursday, August 30, 2012 9:08:37 AM well said brother
John Owen John Owen Thursday, August 30, 2012 9:09:08 AM yes it is, thank you buddy, someone needed to say this
John Owen John Owen Thursday, August 30, 2012 9:10:15 AM exactly, its the baby boomers and their newfound vaginas that are ruining everything today
Ron Kunschaft Ron Kunschaft Thursday, August 30, 2012 10:32:15 AM Kaz, it's a losing battle, the "civilians" posting these opinions will never be swayed. They think they are above us morally. Bottom line, what the Lodi Mayor and Council did was sneaky and underhanded. THAT, is the issue. Common ground CAN and WILL be found now that their ultimate plan has been revealed. There needs to be a certain trust within a municipality's government and that includes the fire department. Without it, shit just breaks down. I personally think this is all due to a complete lack of communication between the law makers and the guys that are there to save those lawmakers' collective asses in an emergency. Once again, to reiterate what the article was stating, the F.D. is pissed due to being sandbagged here. After all, what's next? What other perks of being a volunteer will they try to take away next? If ANY of you who are commenting, are NOT a volunteer firefighter or EMT, then you really have no clue as to what this debate is REALLY about.
Jimmy Williams Jimmy Williams Thursday, August 30, 2012 11:39:53 AM Nope, not a civilian, I am a career firefighter, both paid and volunteer for over 30 years, and still do it today. You will never be able to justify drinking on the job, period. IF you are in the station, you are on the job.
Ron Kunschaft Ron Kunschaft Thursday, August 30, 2012 11:44:05 AM You're right. Now get back on your high horse and have a nice life. BTW, I really doubt you are a firefighter. You might ride on a shiny truck and pack hose, but you ain't no firefighter.

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