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Detroit to help firefighters after drinking incidents

March 2, 2021 GMT

DETROIT (AP) — The mayor of Detroit acknowledged Tuesday that the fire department has a “very serious problem” after two on-duty employees were involved in alcohol-related crashes.

Mayor Mike Duggan said the city will conduct an audit in which employees can step forward and speak confidentially about alcohol use and other issues.

He said firefighters who face the additional strain of serving as medical first responders will be provided with mental health services. Duggan said the stress of COVID-19 has been a contributing factor.

“I’ve had some people tell me it’s limited to a few firehouses. I’ve seen people anonymously without any specifics on TV say it’s everywhere, but the truth is we don’t know,” Duggan said.

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The latest incident occurred over the weekend when a captain crashed a city vehicle and nearly landed it on a freeway.

Duggan told reporters that a reduction of leadership in fire stations during the pandemic has led to a “very serious problem.”

“We don’t know the extent of the problem,” he said. “We’re not here to focus on who is to blame. We’re focused on how to solve it.”

The head of the firefighters union said the group has no tolerance for drinking in the workplace.

“While not an excuse, the recent events that we addressed today only reveal and underscore the terrible emotional costs” of our work, Tom Gehart said.