Drunk Driving Offense Costs Texas Firefighter His Job

A veteran Austin, Texas firefighter with 29 years on the department and an unblemished record has been terminated over a drunk driving arrest.

Firefighter Mark Madison, 52, was arrested on May 10, 2014 after his vehicle struck a guard rail and a curb. Madison has not been convicted or pled guilty to the offense, but according to an Austin Fire Department memo he admitted he “probably was” impaired. That admission led to his indefinite suspension, which for non-Texans is a euphemism for being terminated.

According Austin Firefighters IAFF Local 975 President Bob Nicks, Madison has a flawless record, and until last December, the department issued 10 day suspensions for similar infractions.

Newsradioklbj.com quoted President Nicks as saying “The association and the firefighters believe in progressive discipline. They also believe people do mistakes and they have to account for them and atone for them. But this is just another very heavy handed tactic from the Fire Chief.”

Madison is scheduled for a hearing on the drunk driving charges on August 18, 2014. He has the right to appeal his termination.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 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) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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