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Today I publish an illustration that was harder to draw than I thought it would be - and I knew it would be hard! The subject of alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and drunk driving is at times a taboo subject in the firehouse and our national conferences. We eagerly discuss tactics, obesity, cancer, suicide, depression, seat belts, speed, health and fitness… the list of ways we can become injured or killed seems endless, and we are doing a much better job of having these conversations. But as I write this, another brother is dead, another family is mourning a father/husband/son, and friends are crushed beyond words. I did not know this man outside of a couple on-line interactions, but it brought up so many feelings and emotions from friends lost in the past - losses that I’m still coming to terms with. So, as I do, I put my pain, anger, and frustrations to paper and let my pens speak the words that I want to scream - ENOUGH! ENOUGH!

It’s time that our self-abusive actions be addressed, and I’m hoping that this cartoon starts that conversation. It needs to happen now! This cartoon is the first of three pieces that I will publish in the coming weeks addressing what we do to ourselves, and the effect it has on so many others. I’m not naive enough to believe these cartoons will change attitudes and actions overnight, but I hope it will be a start. A start to the tough conversations that need to happen. A start to our brothers and sisters stepping up to address the self-abuse - within themselves and others. A start to educated people making it their life’s mission to offer training and assistance. A start… a spark of hope.

“No More!” is a hollow statement, when “Why Not Now?” would be the more appropriate question. I wish I would have had the courage to put aside my pain and reservations months ago to draw this cartoon and say what needs to be said. Maybe I could have saved a life… I have to live with that regret. But never again. I’m sure this subject will elicit scorn and ridicule from a few - so be it. Small price to pay if my work starts a movement to changes minds, habits, and actions.

I’m sick and tired of waking up to devastating news - crying in a huddled mass on the kitchen floor - comforting friends - planning/attending funerals - drawing tribute cartoons - celebrating a life taken by alcohol by getting drunk - then doing nothing until it’s repeated.

ENOUGH! …and maybe that starts right here.


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Comment by Lane Sekavec on December 15, 2017 at 9:29am

As a transportation industry hazardous materials responder, I do lots of training across my territory/system.  One thing that I still see occasionally (but it's still there) is the proverbial beer cooler/refrigerator in the fire station. 

I first saw one in a fire station after concluding training one evening and the FD members asked if I wanted a beer.  I declined but there was the keg, tap and bar right in the station.  Since then, I've seen taps as well as full refrigerators in various stations.  I've even heard comments from volunteers about someone picking up "refreshments" on the way out to relieve operating crews at large grass/wildland fires. 

Imagine the liability AND negative publicity if a FD vehicle involved in a collision/wreck was found to have alcoholic beverages on board (and even worse if the driver is impaired!!).  I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that, depending on the type of department, it could cause the demise of the entire organization's membership.

Just something to think about.  I'm not anti-drinking at all but we have to be very very mindful of the view from the other side of the glass.  Remember that "perception is reality" whether we like it or not.

Comment by Patrick Brown on December 14, 2017 at 2:03pm

Very nicely done. Yes this is a taboo subject. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse, both on and off duty, is not talked about yet rampant. Members are much more likely to brag about and condone alcohol laden gatherings and  misdeeds while intoxicated then to try and discourage such activities. Members are also likely to overlook and cover for the firefighter who comes in intoxicated time and time again. This is a big problem in the fire services. It is also a big societal problem. Thanks for bringing it to the forefront. 

Comment by John K. Murphy on December 12, 2017 at 11:36pm

Well done brother. This is the issue and I really appreciate your true talent and insight. 

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