Reno Fire Chief Hernandez comments on drug and alcohol policy

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Updated: 6/24/2014 11:37 pm
RENO, Nev. ( & KRNV) -- News 4 met with Reno Fire Chief Michael Hernandez on Tuesday to discuss the policy that allows Reno firefighters to be on the job while alcohol -- if their blood alcohol content level measures below 0.08 -- marijuana, or even cocaine is present in their systems.

The policy was negotiated between fire unions and the City of Reno more than a decade ago; and Hernandez made it clear that just because firefighters can have these substances in their systems, does not mean they are. In his four and a half years as chief of Reno Fire, Hernandez said he has only utilized the policy three times. He also says if an employee is in violation of the policy, they want it reported.

"If a co-worker or a front line supervisor suspects that one of his employees or one of his team members may be under the influence, he picks up the phone, he initiates the process, we get that person tested and it's either positive or negative," said Hernandez.

But will there be an effort to change Reno Fire's drug and alcohol policy? News 4's Ryan Kern will have that answer tonight on News 4 at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Tonight on News 4 at 6 p.m., we will dig deeper into the Lemmon Valley incident in which an injured man was left stranded for more than an hour after Reno Fire chose not to assist in lifting the patient. We'll hear from Chief Hernandez on why Reno Fire will no longer respond to certain calls and how they plan to handle incidents similar to what occurred in Lemmon Valley in the future.

Watch these newscasts live on our website by clicking here.
7 Comment(s)
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spike - 6/26/2014 9:50 AM
0 Votes
why would they test if it was ok to drunk of high???

sybersnot - 6/25/2014 7:29 AM
2 Votes
I can't wait to watch the skit they are writing for Saturday Night Live right now. It is going to be so funny.

Truthbetold - 6/24/2014 8:28 PM
1 Vote
William, lets no get so melodramatic! Let us not forget about good ole Mr. Cashell. It was him who spoke up so adamantly against drug use a while back when a family member was found to be using. Now, Mr. Cashell said he would not be opposed to applying for a medical marijuana dispensory license? Seriously? I agree, zero tolerance is great but do you honestly think that every business that has a zero tolerance policy doesn't have employees show up to work with a buzz, hung over or purposely get high while working (lunch breaks)? I can count on my fingers and toes how many times i have been witness to fellow employees coming to work altered at the numerous jobs I have had since being a teenager, many of which were for large corporations and medical facilities. Let's not jump on the righteous bandwagon with our "holier than thou" stances. Things need to change but tact is a virtue.

William - 6/24/2014 6:55 PM
3 Votes
Would the fire chief and members of the Reno Fire Department be willing to allow a surgeon, with a blood alcohol level of .07, to operate on them or their family members? Would they allow their family members to take a commercial airline flight if it was known that the pilot's blood alcohol level was .07? I would not want my surgeon, pilot, or firefighters to have any measurable blood alcohol level. The Reno Fire Department, management and union leadership, needs to do the right thing and adopt a zero tolerance policy. Anything less is unacceptable!

Reality Check - 6/24/2014 4:55 PM
1 Vote
I love KRNV's "polls." Of course RFD should have a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. Looking forward to tomorrows poll: "should high school kids be issued machine guns at school." or "should we be feeding our dogs cyanide for dinner?"

Reality Check - 6/24/2014 4:54 PM
0 Votes
I love KRNV's "polls." Of course RFD should have a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol. Looking forward to tomorrows poll: "should high school kids be issued machine guns at school." or "should we be feeding our dogs cyanide for dinner?"

ACNP1221 - 6/24/2014 3:05 PM
4 Votes
Mr. Hernandez's justification is just as absurd as the current policy. In 4 years you only had to utilize it 3 times. Wellthat is 3 times too many!! You say that you follow the policy and if you suspect abuse, you report the person immediately and its either positive or negative. What you fail to mention is that fireman can be under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, opiates and PCP, as long as they are under the policy limits, then its a "negative" result. That's just wonderful. There have been several posts from union supporters/firemen reminding us that there were council members who signed the policy and not to forget their wrongfulness in the whole ordeal. I would say you are right, BUT...let's not forget how collective bargaining works and who asked for these drug allowances in the policy. NOT the city council or union.

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