Chief Don Johnson said there was no indication that firefighter Steve Ackerman was too intoxicated to do his job
VALLEY SPRINGS, S.D. — A volunteer fire department reportedly leaves it up to firefighters on whether or not to respond to a call after they have consumed alcohol.
The Argus Leader reported that an autopsy released last week revealed firefighter Steve Ackerman, a Valley Springs firefighter who died in an April 12 house fire, had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit to drive.
Fire Chief Don Johnson said Ackerman didn’t drive a fire truck to the scene — he rode in the truck with other firefighters. This raised a question after officials released their final report on the blaze.
Chief Don Johnson said the department policy for drinking is: "if you are not functional, don't show up."
The decision whether to respond is solely up the firefighter, Johnson said. Discussions about amending the policy have taken place, but nothing has come from it, according to the report.
"If you had one beer and you're going to a fire or a grass fire, it's no big deal," Johnson said. "I like to enjoy a beer with my pizza too."
At no point, Johnson said, was there any indication that fallen firefighter Steve Ackerman was too intoxicated to do his job. He credited Ackerman's judgment in evacuating the home, according to the report.
"He was the one to yell at the other two to get out," Johnson said. "He was the one who saw something go south."