Police: Pittsburgh firefighter suffered drug overdose at station

Following the New Year's Eve incident, the firefighter is no longer on duty

Bob Bauder
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh police records indicate that a city firefighter suffered a drug overdose while on duty in a Brookline fire station on New Year's Eve.

A police officer was dispatched at 6:23 a.m. to Station 26 on Brookline Boulevard to investigate the report of an overdose, according to a police incident report. The firefighter survived.

Earlier this week, public safety officials told the Tribune-Review that a firefighter suffered a “medical emergency” at the station Dec. 31 but would not discuss the nature of the emergency or the medical treatment involved.

Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said at the time that he and fire Chief Darryl Jones were investigating. He said the firefighter, whom he would not name, is no longer on duty.

He said no criminal charges have been filed.

Hissrich on Wednesday again declined to comment, citing federal privacy laws regarding employee medical cases. He declined to answer questions about whether the firefighter received Narcan to reverse the overdose.

“Since no charges have been filed, it's still my (comment) that they responded to a medical emergency,” he said.

Mike Manko, spokesman for Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen A. Zappala Jr., said his office is aware of the situation and awaiting a report from the city before deciding how to proceed.

City firefighters are subject to random urine testing to detect the presence of alcohol and illegal drugs, according to their union contract.

Pittsburgh implemented random drug testing in 2011 in response to a number of firefighters who were charged with DUI, drug possession and public intoxication.

Hissrich and top fire officials can order a firefighter to undergo hair testing based on a “reasonable suspicion” from an identified source that they've been using drugs. The firefighter is placed on administrative leave until test results return, according to the contract.

A failed test results in a 10-day suspension without pay.

The firefighter must be evaluated by a substance-abuse professional and comply with any recommended treatment.

A second violation at any time results in immediate termination.

Ralph Sicuro, president of International Association of Firefighters Local 1, declined to comment.

Copyright 2017 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

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