You may recall this headline and story in the Boston Herald on October 4, 2007 and a similar story in the Boston Globe. It followed the deaths of Firefighter Paul Cahill and Firefighter Warren Payne at an August 29, 2007 fire inside a West Roxbury restaurant. According to the Herald, “Paul J. Cahill, 55, had a blood alcohol level of .27 – more than three times the legal alcohol limit for motorists”. Both papers and other news media reported Payne had an unspecified amount of cocaine in his system.
STATter911.com and other fire service news media relayed those stories. The issue added fuel to the growing battle between the firefighters’ union and recently re-elected Mayor Thomas Menino. Menino called for a review of the fire department after the news surfaced.
Now, the NIOSH report into that fire has been released. It does not mention alcohol or illegal drugs. NIOSH makes note that its investigators were not able to access the autopsy report:
Note: There have been media reports of alleged substance abuse that were discovered during the toxicological screening of both victims. NIOSH repeatedly requested a copy of the autopsy reports through the fire department, district attorney’s office, and representatives of the families, but did not receive any toxicology reports; therefore, NIOSH is not able to comment on the alleged condition of the victims.
NIOSH has two more reports. Click here for the report on the mobile home fire in Craigsville, West Virginia that killed Lt. Johnnie Hammons and Firefighter Timothy Nicholas.