Boston Fire Report Says Drugs, Alcohol Not Factors in Firefighters' Deaths
Fire Commissioner disputes findings

Posted: 02-22-2008
Updated: 02-22-2008 10:32:24 AM

Courtesy of The Boston Herald

A Boston Fire Department report on a fatal West Roxbury blaze that killed two firefighters says the jakes' deaths were not the result of drug or alcohol "impairment" but the city's top fire official is challenging the finding.

A Fire Department Board of Inquiry report probing the Aug. 29, 2007, deaths of firefighters Paul Cahill and Warren Payne at the Tai Ho Restaurant found "no factual indications supporting that alcohol/drug impairment contributed to or caused these two firefighters to become disoriented or inhibited in their ability to perform the firefighting duties assigned to them."

But Fire Commissioner Roderick J. Fraser Jr. is disputing the findings.

"Although that may be the board's opinion, I do not believe that there is evidence to dismiss possible impairment," Fraser wrote in a letter sent today to Mayor Thomas M. Menino and Deputy Fire Chief Steven Dunbar, who headed the Board of Inquiry probe.

The Herald reported last year that Cahill was legally drunk and Payne had traces of cocaine in his system, according to officials briefed on the pair's autopsy reports. The Board of Inquiry's 134-page report was released to the firefighters' families today and will be posted on the Department's Web site tomorrow morning.

Republished with permission of The Boston Herald.