Two Waterbury firefighters have been fired after failing random drug and alcohol tests, and one was driving a fire truck while drunk, according to an internal investigation.
Both men served the Waterbury Fire Department for over 20 years before their careers were cut short by failing these tests. Both are fighting to get their jobs back.
Investigation reports obtained by NBC Connecticut show Fire Lieutenant Thomas Eccleston was terminated after testing positive for marijuana use. Eccleston told investigators he had a state-issued medical marijuana card. But he was on what’s called a “last chance agreement” with the department after two prior disciplinary actions. It required him to pass the drug test regardless of a state-issued medical marijuana card.
According to another report, Fire Driver Greg Keane blew a point .083 on a breathalyzer test, which is over the legal limit. According to that report, he drove a fire truck to an emergency call at Driggs Elementary School just hours before that test.
Keane told superiors he’d been struggling with alcohol for years, and opened four bottles of wine in the 24 hours before his shift.
NBC Connecticut was unsuccessful in reaching Keane and Eccleston for comment. Both are appealing their terminations.
Keane went before the State Department of Labor’s Board of Mediation and Arbitration Friday, but it could be more than a month before a decision is reached.
In a statement to NBC Connecticut, Waterbury Fire Chief David Martin said Keane and Eccleston’s behavior isn’t representative of their department.
“The members of the Waterbury Fire Department are dedicated professionals. These are isolated instances and should not be deemed to represent the culture and character of the entire department,” Martin told NBC Connecticut.
Chief Martin also said these are the only two positive test results his department’s seen since starting random monthly drug and alcohol tests about a year ago.