Albuquerque Tackles Firefighter DWI Problem

The Albuquerque Fire Department has been struggling with a persistent problem: drunk driving arrests of its off duty personnel. in 2008 there were 6 DWI arrests of AFD firefighters. In 2009, the number jumped to 9. Each new case has been receiving unprecidented news coverage, leaving the public, politicians and the media asking questions about just what is going on in the AFD.

Any time an employer seeks to influence off duty behavior, it runs certain risks: will the actions be challenged by the employees? Will it be challenged in the courts thereby tying up the department for years to come? Will it be attacked in the press for going too far or not going far enough? Will it bring additional attention to a matter that might soon resolve itself on its own? In this case – something needed to be done and the leadership of the department took a measured approach as this video shows.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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