Believe it or not, while I've been at work in a few of the old school, built in the 1900s firehouses in Baltimore, around 10pm to this day, I still see the bottles start being brought out from time to time. You don't say anything if you halfway understand the meaning of "brotherhood". As long as it isn't the driver of the fire engine, putting the public at risk, the guys got each others back so fiercly, that people look the other way more often than not.
There used to be a blank button on some of the pop machines in the city. Yea, that was for the Natty Boh (local macrobrew......mediocre at best)
Some of these guys were/are excellent fireman at hard-as-nails houses too. Fire houses that saw A LOT of action, A LOT of fire, A LOT of shootings and you wouldn't believe some of the stuff that went on behind the closed doors. There still in some of those houses, are imprints on the lacquered finish of some of the wooden kitchen tables from the 6'' stiletto heels of some of the "after hours female visitors" earning a couple extra dollars from the boys.
Everyone still smokes pretty much anywhere in the firehouse besides the bunkrooms.
And you know what? It works. Unbelievably.
Even if a guy is loaded up, and he happens to get injured on the job, whether because he was drunk or not....the bonds and respect for the guys on the job from the hospital workers, nurses etc is crazy. There have been a few times where I've seen people try to be hung out to dry, or insurance not pay up and mysteriously, the blood alcohol report disappears.
Not saying I am defending it or not defending it, but it just amazes me. The respect the public has here still for their firefighters. You don't see it much in society to this level anymore. Countless times we have whiskey, vodka, beer etc delivered to the firehouse on behalf of someones house we save, or pet we pull out of their house, just to thank us.
The public knows we are the redheaded stepchild of city services that get shafted more often than not. We are severely underpaid, and understaffed. A lot of guys work more at the fire station than they are home. And on their days off they have to work a second job in many cases to make ends meet. This leaves little time for any sort of chilling out.
Ive been told up and down about all of the worst case scenarios that this could cause, but honestly, unless youve been there, in someone elses shoes, you have no room to talk.
Worst case scenario:
Gong gets rung at 330 AM. Structure Fire with fire blowing out the second floor windows. The guy I'm humpin hose into this house with to fight the fire smells like booze. Room starts to light off and ceiling collapses on me. Hoseline burns through or has no water. I'm buried. It's hot. Real hot. Boozed up guy goes to work through thick and thin when a lot of lesser guys would have turned back and gets me out of the shit.
If he does his job and it doesnt affect him, I could give 2 fucks what some Human Resources danny do gooder says who's never been in that guys shoes. Hell sometime I think about how it impairs yur pain receptors and can understand why some guys at the busy houses might get a little tweaked up before a good hot shitter.....it just might help you to be able to stand the heat and the smoke and the burning in your nose and watery eyes and running nose and the embers that seem to always make their way down your coat collar.