The Boston Fire Department has released the results of its recent drug tests, and of the more than 1,000 firefighters, only two tests returned positive for drug use. City officials said that the 2 firefighters who tested positive in the tests were given 30-day unpaid suspensions.

Boston began its program to randomly drug test its firefighters in September last year. Last year, an independent arbitrator has granted the firefighters a 19 percent retroactive raise in exchange for drug testing.

City officials have been trying to reach an agreement with the firefighters’ union for drug testing to be done after an August 2007 fire in Tai Ho Mandarin and Cantonese Restaurant in West Roxbury resulted to the death of two firefighters. Autopsy results revealed that one firefighter had cocaine in his system while the other firefighter had a blood-alcohol content of 0.27, way above the state’s legal limit.

Rich Paris, president of firefighters union Local 718, said the results of the tests only show that Boston firefighters do not regularly abuse drugs or alcohol. Samples for the tests are collected by a private company hired by City Hall. Those who will be conducting the tests arrive at fire stations unannounced at different times of the day. Paris also said that this is the first city agency to have random testing; others are subjected to scheduled drug testing where employees are informed ahead of drug tests.

 

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