Those who are potential employees at a fire department might wonder: do you get drug tested as afirefighter? Indeed, this is a pertinent question at many workplaces, during pre-employment checks. It has become commonplace in most US workplaces to seek information about the behaviors of potential employees, especially when it comes to using illicit substances. Even after employment, the question, of how to pass a urine drug test remains pertinent. That is because many employers run such tests from time to time.

Firefighter Background Checks: Can You Smoke Weed as a Firefighter?

Some workplaces, due to the nature of the work, require employees and potential employees to take health tests. It includes drug tests as well. Since firefighting is a crucial public service, those employed need to be of specific physical health and fitness. Only when candidates meet such parameters do they successfully pass the recruitment rounds.


Firefighters fall under the jurisdiction of public service departments, necessitating their adherence to drug testing protocols in accordance with their employment agreements. The prospect of successfully navigating how to pass a urine drug test is a concern for many applicants seeking positions within this sector.

Despite the legal mandate for such drug tests procedures, the safeguard of the Fourth Amendment extends its shield over these employees. This constitutional provision is designed to prevent unwarranted or capricious testing from encroaching upon individuals’ rights. Consequently, the administration of these tests typically aligns with the principles outlined in the Fourth Amendment.

Do You Get Drug Tested as a Firefighter?

Indeed, the response to this inquiry is affirmative. Individuals who submit applications for enduring roles undergo drug examinations as constituent elements of the hiring procedure. Subsequently, upon an individual’s appointment, the completion of a drug test stands as a prerequisite before assuming responsibilities.

Furthermore, unannounced tests are periodically administered. As a result, employees might be required to submit to such evaluations on an unscheduled basis. These procedures collectively constitute the prevailing manual for recruitment within firefighting divisions across the United States.

Drug Testing Policies in 2023

Current guidelines have changed for the drug testing policy of the FDNY in the present year. The change was introduced as per a proclamation issued by the law department of New York. It states that there would be no adverse actions taken on off-duty usage of marijuana. Hence accordingly, the policies for pre-employment, scheduled, or random tests remain changed. However, usage during work hours would not be admissible.

Hence, many who are looking for answers to can firefighters smoke weed will find that FDNY has made lenient changes to their drug policy. However, this change reflects on New or state alone. Other US states have different takes on their drug testing policy for their firefighters.

Frequency of Testing for Volunteer Firefighters

Though drug testing policies for volunteers can differ, in general, most states ask volunteers who are taken on to take a drug test before they appear for duty. Also, if they are in an accident, were injured or there is reasonable suspicion volunteers might be subjected to random tests.

In general, if one is planning to take up the job of a volunteer firefighter then they should not be wondering how to pass a urine drug test. That is because such public service duties need people to be clear-thinking and to be aware of their situation. Hence, can firefighters smoke weed is not a question that is encouraged in general.

Hair vs. Urine Tests

Some organizations run hair follicle tests for drugs in some instances. However, urine drug tests are more commonplace. In general, hair follicle tests require more rigorous testing methods. However, it is a more extensive way to check since it can detect drugs used up to 3 months before a test is carried out.

On the other hand, urine tests can only detect more recent usage. Hair follicle tests are run when it is required to see long-term or regular drug use.

FDNY Drug Test: hair or urine – what samples do they use?

Can firefighters smoke weed 2023? There have been some recent changes in FDNY procedures, primarily related to drug testing in 2023. It is especially in light of the change in the legal statutes that were issued by the law department in 2022. The changes were regarding adverse actions taken by employers for the off-duty usage of marijuana. Hence, random drug testing unless there are reasonable grounds for suspicion, for weed usage has been prohibited. Of course, employers can take action if they have evidence that someone has resorted to weed usage during work hours.

The Firefighter Drug Testing Process

In general, all firefighting departments across US states have drug tests as part of firefighters background checks. Also, they are subjected to random tests. These are as per policies dictated by departments, counties, or unions. For instance, some unions require drug tests to be done at random every two weeks. However, the tests are usually not for alcohol.

Pre-Employment Screening

When it comes to pre-employment screening drug tests and procedures vary as per location and department. In general, however, for the FDNY drug test, urine testing is more commonplace. The urine test especially is used for the pre-employment screening process. In general drug tests are for screening substances that are commonly abused.

Random Testing: Benefits and Implications

Random test procedures that is when they are conducted and in what duration, vary between states. In most cases, random or scheduled tests for existing employees are usually held for two weeks. Even during random tests urine drug tests are more common. The specific drugs that employees are tested for vary, especially when employees ask how to pass a urine drug test. Usually, there are test screens for substances such as:

  • Marijuana
  • Opiates
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamines
  • Phencyclidine or PCP

Some departments also test for other illegal drugs or could include alcohol in their test screens.

These tests were initially designed to ensure that employees remain drug-free and perform optimally, without the influence of such substances. In recent times, however, there has risen debate about random tests, especially about weed usage. It is especially so in the states where weed usage has become legal. In some states, such as New York, FDNY testing has recently called off random tests for marijuana usage in such jobs.

  • Balancing Accountability: Suspicion Testing

Besides random tests, suspicion testing is another instance when firefighters are required to undergo such tests and wish to know how to pass a urine drug test. For instance, in case they are involved in accidents or their behavior in the workplace comes under suspicion, they can be asked to undergo a drug screen test.

  • Learning from Incidents: Post-Incident Testing

In case there occur any accidents firefighters involved are usually asked to undergo such tests. It is done to rule out the possibility that he or she was under the influence of any substance.

  • Ensuring Fair and Transparent Testing

Though drug tests are part of the pre-employment and employment terms, the Fourth Amendment does protect the rights of employees from having to undergo unnecessary and intrusive tests at their workplaces. Hence, laws at the departments in every US state usually are formed keeping the basic principle of the Fourth Amendment in mind.

  • Navigating Marijuana Policies for Firefighters

Though medical marijuana and other drug screen tests are included in the employment terms, the scenario is changing. That is mainly because many states across the US have legalized weed usage.

Marijuana and Policies: Legal Landscape

The legal lands for drug testing policies for firefighters are changing. While the pre-employment tests remain standard, the random tests are coming under scrutiny. The recent change in FDNY test terms, especially for random tests, stands testimony to that. That is, random tests where off-duty marijuana usage is detected are being debated. The New York Law Department has asked FDNY not to take adverse action if they find evidence that firefighters have indulged in weed usage during their free time.


The key takeaways here are that firefighters are usually subjected to drug screen tests several times. The first instance is when they apply for employment and wish to know how to pass a urine drug test. After that, they are asked to go through a drug screen medical test before appearing for duty. After that, there can be random or scheduled tests. In case of accidents or suspicion, employers can ask firefighters to undergo a test. However, all such requirements are usually done keeping in mind the Fourth Amendment.

As evident from the changing legal landscape, marijuana usage has become legal in several US states. Hence, many fire departments are now considering making drug tests more lenient, especially for firefighters to indulge in weed usage during their free time. However, there is another stream of thought that challenges such notions since weed influence can affect the physical and mental abilities of employees.