City of Lincoln
2009 Media Releases
Mayor Chris Beutler and representatives of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Local 644 today signed an agreement for a program of drug and alcohol testing for Lincoln firefighters. The Mayor said the drug testing agreement is a win for City government, firefighters and the people of Lincoln.
"Testing for alcohol and drugs builds even greater confidence in an already strong system," Beutler said. "In an environment where firefighters put their safety at risk, it is imperative that they can depend on each other. With the new drug testing policy, every person who puts on the LFR uniform will have no doubt about the reliability and judgment of the colleagues upon whom they depend for their very lives. And every person who has an LFR paramedic by their side in a crisis will know that they will be receiving quality medical care that is not compromised by the scourge of drug or alcohol addiction."
The City and the IAFF began working on the policy in the summer of 2008, when two Lincoln firefighters were arrested on drug charges. Beutler thanked IAFF President Dave Engler and union members for working with the City on the agreement. "While drug testing was part of contract negotiations, it was an easy part of negotiations," Beutler said. "The union was 100 percent committed to a drug testing program. The union takes very seriously its obligation as safety providers to the community Union members were anxious to reaffirm to the community that they demand a commitment that is without compromise by alcohol or drugs."
Pre-employment testing has already begun. Active employee testing will begin in 60 days. The testing pool will include 296 current employees who work as firefighters, fire apparatus operators, captains, mechanics and fire inspectors. Half of the pool will be tested each year for drugs, and ten percent will be tested for alcohol. In addition to pre-employment and random testing, pool members also are subject to testing for follow-up purposes, in cases of reasonable suspicion or cause or when they return to duty after a positive test. City Personnel Director Mark Koller said the program will cost about $14,000 a year at current staffing levels.