PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Fighting fires in Pittsburgh is a very stressful, difficult, dangerous job.
Firefighters admit there can a destructive side to what they do – a side of the job that sometimes draws them into drug and alcohol abuse.
“There is a problem here and we’re addressing that problem,” Fire Chief Darryl Jones said.
He suspended Lt. Stephen Jasper for his second DUI.
While in his office, KDKA Investigator Marty Griffin handed the chief a list with the names of six Pittsburgh firefighters facing all kinds of different charges, including assault, public intoxication, DUI, drug possession and firearms charges.
“Some of these things that you just presented to me today is the first I’ve heard of them,” Jones said. “No one comes in and says, ‘Hey chief, I got in trouble last night.’”
Most of the Pittsburgh firefighters are disgusted with the behavior of a few.
“It’s a black eye on everybody whether they want to believe it or not, it’s a black eye on everybody,” a firefighter who did not want to be identified said.
He said he’s had it.
“They’re an embarrassment to themselves and the profession, everybody they work for. Kids look up to guys like us and it’s just embarrassing.”
Still, firefighters and the chief are hopeful the new drug and alcohol testing policy makes a difference and sends a message to the firefighters crossing the line.
Under the new policy, nearly 40 firefighters have been tested. Not one of them tested positive.
“I believe they are starting to realize that it reflects very poorly on the bureau and on themselves,” Jones said.