As a retired 30-year veteran of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire, a 28-year recovering alcoholic and a part-time counselor tech at a halfway house for men with alcohol and drug problems, I would like to comment on the latest reports of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire's problems ("Union Leader: Firefighters 'Stumbled,' " Jan. 15).
In the mid-to-late '80s we in the Public Safety Department had an employee assistance program for people with alcohol and drug problems. It was run by members of the Public Safety Department in recovery. Our success rate was fantastic. We were shut down by Mayor Tom Murphy's administration to save money.
We tried a couple of times to get it started again but were stopped by politicians and bureaucrats who could not care less what happened to those of us with problems. My suggestion is to reach out and ask those who know what can be done to help. Many of us tried, only to be shot down.
According to people in the alcohol and drug field, 10 percent of the population has trouble with substance abuse, so you can either get rid of 10 percent of the work force or help those who need help. I think it is cheaper in the long run to get people help than to start all over with new people.