Cal Fire Recruits Investigated for Drinking while On Duty at Academy

IONE -- More than 30 Cal Fire Academy students are being investigated for drinking during the agency's training program in Ione, in which alcohol is explicitly banned.

The six-week session is called a firefighter module. Students live at the academy in dormitories Monday through Friday and are allowed to leave on weekends. During the week, as long as they're on campus, they are technically on duty as a recruit.

"When you are in class or assigned as a student to that training center, your code of conduct is you are technically on duty," Cal Fire Deputy Director Mike Mohler said.

The entire group, according to Cal Fire, is never larger than 50 people. Of the 30 being investigated, 14 have received some sort of disciplinary action already. Cal Fire officials say nine people have already been terminated.

"We have zero tolerance for it," Mohler said. "We acted on it and the discipline was given out."

The other 16 are awaiting punishment, which may include termination from Cal Fire.

Most recruits, with some exceptions, are in their 20s.

Back in 2015, the California Highway Patrol busted 15 people in their academy for misconduct, including drinking. Cal Fire officials say that led to their "Professional Standards Program," a two-day training session explaining what's allowed and what isn't.

"When our students come to the training center, our students sign a code of conduct. Two full days are spent explaining to them what you can and can't do. They violated that code of conduct," Mohler said.

Officials say the training program works, and that there is no longer a culture of misconduct at the academy, only a few bad apples.

"Unfortunately, some people made some wrong decisions, but no," Mohler told FOX40. "The culture, that culture is gone."