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illicit drugs and LA city

I admitted to doing an illicit drug on my PBA for LA City. The online application then informed me that I would be permenantly disqualified due to my admittance of doing ANY illicit drug. It was over 5 years ago, I was a stupid kid at the time and I had not yet decided to pursue a career in the FD.

I understand that any department will only take the best of the best. I have heard some people, even firefighters, say to just not admit it because no one will ever find out and because I have resolved never to do it again. I don't neccessarily agree with that, and I think it is better to be honest no matter what than get caught lying and get balck listed.I guess I'm puzzled by the fact that there is no tolerance. Is this something where I can continue my application and explain the circumstances on my background check or interview?

If anyone is looking for tolerance of such behavior, the LAFD is likely not the place to seek it.

It's always heartbreaking to hear of such situations. Then again, no one can ever say that those of us on the job didn't openly express that our agency is looking for extraordinary candidates.

The issue - of you wish to pursue it - is between you and the City of Los Angeles Personnel Department/Civil Service Commission. You of course, have the right to seek expert counsel before pursuing a particular course of action.

That much said...

You appear to have answered the question(s) that were asked of you honestly. That alone makes you ten feet tall in my eyes. Please never forget, your credibility is the most important commodity you will ever have, Fire Service career or not. Credibility, honesty, integrity, humility. They are the cornerstones of your being. Please don't sacrifice them for anything.

On a personal note, please let me wish you luck in pursuing your dream with another Department.


Please no e-mail. Public replies only. Thank you!
This message was edited by lafdpso on 5-20-05 @ 4:02 PM

Thank you for your honesty and criticism sir. I understand and completely respect the high standards of LAFD. We all have consequences for our past mistakes and this may just be one of them. If the department still denies my application because of their protocol, it is out of my ability to change that. I accept it and move on. I am positive that there is a position some dept where my past faults are not a disqulifying factor.

I have had this issue come up once before and I simply show that I have changed a lot since high school. I have plenty of other responsibilities now along with a strict watch on my health. Now I can never think of ingesting anything that would harm my body or taking anything that causes me to lose my facilties where I would put my life and others in danger. It is hard to see others succeeding around you and getting backgrounds and jobs when they have been dishonest in the hiring process. Nevertheless, I will stick to my honest guns so to speak in my pursuit of a career and in my life. If it takes me another 10 months or 10 years I won't give up till I have that badge.

Thank you again sir. I will try to talk to the personnel dept. Its worth a shot.

Congrats on your stand for being honest. It really is a very large part of what we are!

As far as your drug use....first let me say that I cast no stones at you, however, five years is not a real long time. I dont know your age or circumstance, however depending on the type of drug and frequency of use....5 years just isnt that long. When I first got started in all this I worked for a volunteer department. One of the guys was complaining he failed a background due to his Marijuana use. He said it was back in high school and didnt mean anything. He was 19 at the time!!!! The good news is he was eventually hired in a large department up in central california and loves it there. Hang in there. There IS hope!
Grab that BRASS RING with all you have

People are praising you for your honesty... They wouldn't hire you, but they will praise you. You may feel ten feet tall or whatever, but you will never be a firefighter for LA. Does that make you feel ten feet tall? It wouldn't make me.
I think you have learned your lesson. If you continue to tell people of your stupid to decision to experiment with an illicit drug you will never get hired.
I can't get hired ANYWHERE because I am a recovering drug addict. I understand and accept that. In your case, you are throwing away any hopes of getting hired on a competitive department by admitting this bad decision. I don't like dishonesty, but I also don't feel you should be made to pay for the rest of your life for a stupid decision you made in high school. Some people posting here do.
If I were you, I would take it as a smack in the face if someone told you that they only take extraordinary candidates and at the same time implied that you do not fit that criteria.
Keep admitting that and get used to these words "Good Luck"!
Go Cats!

Hmmm. Is [url=]extraordinary[/url] an issue?


Extaordinary people come in all shapes, sizes and colors. Just about everyone I meet is extraordinary in some way, including the doctors and nurses that once saved my life. Ditto for many of the Firefighters from around the world I encounter on a daily basis.

That they don't happen to work for a particular agency makes them no less important, capable or fulfilled than the men and women who now sit beside me at LAFD Operations Control.

Just think what an awful world this would be if we all took the same path.

I do sense a great deal of passion and yes, personal frustration in your posting. While cali_fire seems to have accepted my earlier message with a sense of politeness and humility (and I sense him formulating a proper game plan), it clearly touched you in a different way.

We may have met in the past - or maybe not.

Regardless, I must admit being saddened that you or anyone else would assume I was being snide to cali_fire. Nothing my friend, could be further from the truth.

While you *may be* (emphasis added) uniquely qualified to mentor cali_fire in addressing some of his most difficult challenges, I hope that he and others will not glean from you some sense that it is OK to be anything less than truthful to a pointed question.


Somehow, you seem to equate my wishing him luck with tendering a disrespectful dismissal. Again, a poor assumption.

Looking through this often-helpful forum, you will note that I have mentioned that a candidate needs to fit their future Department like hand-in-glove. What you wish to describe as a "competitive" (?) Department may be truly non-competetive for others.

The LAFD is not for every candidate, nor should it be. Ditto for agencies large and small across this great continent. Some of the most fulfilled members of our profession are indeed those who have pursued Plan B, or C or even G. Thanks to them, there are capable persons staffing Fire Stations from sea-to-shining sea. Firefighters I must assure you, that fit well in the culture of that agency.

I too know heartache. I had once dreamed of following my Father and Brother into the United States Air Force, only to have a situation beyond my control alter my plans. Not a day goes by that I do not think about how my life would have been had I been able to pursue that honorable quest. In that regards, maybe we (you, I and many here) have something in common.

Joe, if I said it once, I've said it here a hundred times: I am a dunk Firefighter. I do not work in Recruitment, testing or Training. My opinion is solely my own, and...

I have never told anyone here that their past indiscretions will preclude them from a Fire Service career. In fact, my reply to cali-fire was meant to not only address him, but to share his heartfelt challenge with the many who lurk here who could easily be in his shoes.

In closing Joe, I will encourage your continued participation in this forum. I will however, suggest that paraphrasing or chastening others is a poor way to share your personal viewpoint.

Best Wishes and indeed Good Luck, to you.

Please no e-mail. Public replies only. Thank you!

cali...if you want to be fully honest when it comes to that question then obviously LAFD is not the place for you. for better or worse, they have a zero tolerance policy. my personal OPINION is that it is for the worse. i feel it promotes lying (i know for FACT of many who have lied in regards to the drug questions and were hired without issue. many still work for LAFD today.)

that being said (again, my OPINION), i know for a fact that there are other places that will take a more realistic approach the the issue. i failed LAFD background on my "use of drugs and intoxicants". I was hired soon thereafter by a dept. in san diego. when i was testing w/ san diego city, they stated specifically on their app that no drug use in the past 3 years. i don't know if they have an internal, non public list of disqualifying drugs, but at least they state it for CAN get hired w/ a little drug use in your history.

good luck...i truly mean that.


Let me start by apologizing to you. You are right, I did sound More than a little bitter.
I unfairly lumped you in a group of people who I feel come across as having almost unrealistic expectations when it comes to a person's history and how to explain (or not explain) it.
I should not have paraphrazed you or anyone else, but I just felt your sincerity was less than genuine. If it truly was not, then hey, I was wrong.
I am not qualified enough to tell anyone more than my opinion on how to get hired on a FD. I am qualified to talk to someone on how not to throw your life, career, etc. away over a bad decision to use drugs. I often speak at drug rehabilitation centers for adults and youths. I don't encourage anyone to lie about themselves or their history. But, if being labeled a "Drugee" for life by people who don't understand addiction can be avoided, I encourage that.
I would not suggest a "... by any means necessary." approach to getting a good career for one's self and family. But, sometimes it is necessary to not devulge certain information that will absolutely prohibit you from getting hired. I don't advertise the fact I am a recovering addict. In my career, it could be devasating to me and my employer. It was necessary for me to lie about my past drug use to get my job. People are alive today who may not be otherwise because of me having my job. Yes, I lied to get it, but doing what I do everyday and asking for forgiveness for my sins, I feel I did the right thing. The right thing was for me to be put in a position to save lives. I could not have this position if I exposed my past history. I did what I had to do.
That is what I am suggesting in this case. If this personal history blemish is going to keep this person from doing a great service to a community and make a great living at it, then I say that that blemish should remain hidden. It would not do any parties involved any good to give up that information.

Again, I apologize to you, Brian. It's a touchy subject for me, but I was not fair to your opinion while I was expecting mine to be fairly respected.

P.S. What I meant by "competitive Dept." is one that has thousands of applicants for relatively few positions. I know they are all competitve by definition.
This message was edited by FormerIdiot on 5-22-05 @ 8:03 PM

First off, FormerIdiot, I did not take any offense to lafdpso's comments. I just took it as someone's experienced opinion that was honest. That's what I was asking for on this post. I understand where you are coming from with your frustrastion and I don't feel that you or anyone that turns their life around from a wrong course in life should be labeled as a "drugee". People will label you no matter who or what you are. Do you live near the beach and surf? Some people might call you a lazy surfer... get my point? Labels and stigmas are just going to happen. You can't control that. You can control your future and the decisions you make regarding that.

Personally, I feeling that lying about my past is not neccessary for a hiring board to see the kind of outstanding individual I am and have become. Its just in my nature not to lie. period. whether white lie or not. I feel that there is somewhere for me in the FD and if that is not LAFD than thats fine. That still won't stop me from applying and eventually from getting hired.

I am glad that I am praised for my honesty because that is what I am, an honest person, about my strengths and faults. And if someone can see that from an online post than I am confident that someone sitting across the table from me will see that all the more so.

In my mind, I want to pursue a career in the fire service because it is the only career where you are rewarded for being an honest, moral, and genuine individual. So I see no other way of attaining that postion than being exactly that in my applications and interviews. For me, that is my opinion and I plan to stick to it.

I personally thank everyone for their input. It sounds like honesty is still the best policy in the long run. Don't let your past errors and frustrastions cause you to make a self-fulfilling prophecy about failing to get into a department. Life is life and we all made stupid decisions. You learn from it and move on. Unfortunately, sometimes you pay for it. Again, that is life. Love it or leave it, thats the way it is.