Do Firefighters Get Drug Tested? (& How Often)

Firefighting is a demanding and dangerous job that requires physical and mental readiness, as well as a high level of responsibility and trust. That is why the use of drugs is prohibited for firemen.

But do firefighters get drug tested? If so, how often do firemen get drug tested, and what for?

If you are working or aspiring to work in the fire service field, you may have wondered about these questions. In this article, we will answer them and help you understand and prepare for drug testing in your profession.

Let’s dive in.

Do Firefighters Get Drug Tested?

Yes, firefighters do get drug tested as a condition for pre-employment and at other times during the profession. Firemen perform safety-sensitive duties, which are required to be tested for drugs and alcohol.

How Often Do Firemen Get Drug Tested?

The frequency of drug testing for firemen varies depending on the fire department, the state laws, and the situation. Some fire departments do not drug test firefighters at all while others do random drug testing at random times.

Some common scenarios where firefighters may be drug tested are:

  • During the hiring process or the background check.
  • Before starting the training program or the certification exam.
  • After an accident or an incident involving the firefighter or civilian.
  • Returning to duty when the firefighter has either tested positive in the past or has admitted to drug use; giving him or her a second chance.
  • During the year, as part of the annual or semi-annual drug check.
  • On a random or periodic basis as part of the employer’s policy or the federal grant requirements.
Firefighter getting drug tested

What Drugs Are Firefighters Tested For?

Firefighters are tested for various types of drugs that can impair their physical and mental performance, such as alcohol, marijuana, prescription drugs, and illicit drugs. Firemen are expected to follow a zero-tolerance policy for drug use, as it may compromise their safety, performance, and integrity.

The specific drugs that are tested for will vary depending on the employer, the state, and the situation, but some common drugs that are screened for include:


This includes ethanol, which is the main ingredient in alcoholic beverages, and other forms of alcohol, such as methanol, isopropanol, and ethylene glycol. Alcohol can impair judgment, coordination, and reaction time, which are essential for firefighters.

Prescription Drugs

This includes drugs that a doctor legally prescribes for a medical condition, such as opioids, benzodiazepines, stimulants, antidepressants, and antihistamines. Prescription drugs can have side effects, interactions, or abuse potential, which can affect the performance and safety of firemen and the public.

Illicit Drugs

This includes drugs that are illegal or prohibited by law, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, ecstasy, and LSD. Illicit drugs can alter the mood, perception, and behavior of firefighters, which can compromise their ability to function during a fire service or emergency.

Note: These are the same types of drugs EMTs and paramedics get tested for. See our other guide, “Do EMTs and paramedics get drug tested” for more details on the emergency medical professional field.

What Happens If a Firefighter Fails a Drug Test?

Failing a drug test can have serious consequences for a firefighter’s career, reputation, and legal status depending on the department’s policies, state laws, and the fireman’s past disciplinary history.

A firefighter who fails a drug test may face:

  • Immediate dismissal from the job.
  • Suspension or probation for a certain period.
  • Mandatory enrollment in a drug rehabilitation program.
  • Loss of certification or license.
  • Legal action or criminal charges.

It is very important for firefighters to avoid using any illegal drugs and to comply with the drug testing policies of their fire department. Drug use can impair their judgment, performance, and ability to save lives in critical situations.

Firemen drug test screening report

Frequently Asked Questions

Do firefighters get drug tested randomly?

Yes, firefighters may be randomly drug tested at any point before or during employment. Firefighters are subject to drug testing as part of their training, certification, employment, and in some cases, after an accident or incident. The frequency and type of drug testing varies depending on the employer, state, and federal laws.

However, it is important to note that fire departments may only test their employees for drug use in accordance with the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects the privacy of individuals against arbitrary and unreasonable intrusions by the government. See Drug Testing and the Fourth Amendment by Leslie A. Harasym for more details.

Can firefighters have nicotine?

Many fire departments have a policy against nicotine in their stations, requiring firefighters to refrain from using tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, marijuana, and vaping. This means firefighters are not allowed to use any nicotine products (on or off duty) while they are employed.

Nicotine products can have negative effects on the health and performance of firefighters, such as increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, and impaired reaction time, which is why nicotine is prohibited for firemen.

Can firefighters use CBD?

Firefighters can use CBD as long as it is not expressly prohibited by their department, city, or union. Some fire departments have a zero tolerance policy, while others do not have a rule against CBD, they just require you to pass a THC drug test.

Firefighters who are allowed to use CBD must only use CBD isolate products as other types of CBD can contain THC, which is illegal at the federal level and can cause a positive drug test result. However, firemen who take CBD should be cautious and aware of the potential risks.

Can firefighters drink alcohol?

Firefighters can drink alcohol in moderation when they are off duty, as long as they do not report to work under the influence of alcohol or violate any departmental policies regarding alcohol consumption. Firefighters should refrain from drinking alcohol within eight hours of performing any fire- or EMS-related duties. 

Drinking alcohol can impair the judgment, coordination, and reaction time of firefighters, as well as increase the risk of dehydration, fatigue, and injury.

Here is the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) position on alcohol awareness:

  • No member of a fire and emergency services agency/organization shall participate in any operational or support aspect of the organization while under the influence of alcohol, including but not limited to, any fire and emergency operations, fire-police, training, administrative functions, rehab, etc.
  • If a member of a fire and emergency services organization has consumed alcohol within the previous eight (8) hours, or is still impaired by alcohol consumed previous to the eight (8) hours, they should voluntarily remove themselves from the activities and functions of the fire and emergency services agency/organization and from any capacity in which they are representing their agency/organization.
  • No alcohol shall be permitted on the premises of any operational portion of the fire and emergency services organization, including but not limited to the apparatus, the apparatus floor, the station living areas, administrative offices, etc.

What type of drug test do firemen take?

The most common type of drug test for firemen is a urine test and blood test, which can detect various drugs and substances in the body. However, other types of specimens, such as hair, saliva, or sweat, may also be used for drug testing. The specific drugs that are tested for may depend on the fire department, city, union, or state.

Bottom Line

Drug testing is a reality for firemen who work in the fire services field. By understanding the reasons, types, and consequences of firefighters getting drug tested, and by following the policies and procedures of their fire department, these professionals can protect themselves and their careers.