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Tacoma fire department revises hiring after firefighter’s drug death

TACOMA – The Tacoma Fire Department has revised their hiring practices in the wake of a News Tribune story about a firefighter who died of a drug overdose last summer after showing up for work impaired.

Fire officials say they plan to look more closely at a candidate’s criminal background and ask broader questions about illegal drug use.

Tacoma Fire Chief Jim Duggan told the News Tribune that the agency needs to be aware that substance abuse is epidemic.

Firefighter Ramsey Mueller, son of a deputy fire chief, was hired in December 2015. He died of a heroin overdose last July.

Before his hiring, a background check revealed an active arrest warrant tied to a misdemeanor drug charge in California. The warrant was cleared but leaders later acknowledged they didn’t examine the underlying court records or police reports associated with the charge, which included Mueller’s confession of a 10-year addiction to heroin and methamphetamine.


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