There are a lot of troubling questions regarding the reported autopsy results showing alcohol and cocaine in the blood of two Boston firefighters killed in August.

There are a lot of troubling questions regarding the reported autopsy results showing alcohol and cocaine in the blood of two Boston firefighters killed in August.

But as upsetting as those questions may be to the families of Paul Cahill of Scituate and Warren Payne, a one-time Canton resident, the public deserves answers as to how impaired these men were when they died and how their conditions could have escaped fellow firefighters and supervisors.

There are also grave concerns about the decision by Superior Court Judge Merita Hopkins to bar a news organization from airing the details of the autopsies in clear violation of legal precedent banning prior restraint of media outlets.

 The results of the autopsies, which are not considered public documents, reportedly show that Cahill, a father of three, had a blood alcohol content of .27, more than three times the legal limit for driving.

 Payne’s autopsy showed traces of cocaine in his blood, but it is unclear what the amounts were or how long before his death he ingested the drug.

 Boston, like many other fire departments, does not have mandatory random drug testing because of collective bargaining agreements. That’s not to say that the tests would have found the men impaired, but the threat of testing would be a way to reduce the possibility.

 But the onus falls on Payne, who if he had been doing drugs, should have taken action not to put himself in harm’s way.

 As for Cahill, .27 is a level at which it is very hard to hide one’s intoxication. Even for a clear-thinking firefighter, entering a building with thick, acrid smoke is a test of all the senses and reactions, let alone for one who could not drive a car without a reasonable chance of being pulled over or being in an accident.

 If Cahill could not make the right decision not to respond to the alarm, surely someone in his station should have said something because all their lives were in danger.

 Also, while it’s understandable that fellow firefighters would want to spare the families from the harsh news as well as protect potential survivor benefits, there have to be questions of the union’s judgment to block the results from being made public.

 Union officials knew from the toxicology results that Cahill and Payne were impaired, yet they allowed information regarding possible violations by the restaurant owners to be made public and let that be viewed as a possible cause of the men’s deaths. It may be, but a full investigation to determine cause requires all information, not a selective sampling that only shines the light in one area.

 Hopkins, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s former chief of staff, may have let her loyalty to her old boss and her old job cloud her judgment in allowing the union’s motion to bar WHDH-TV from broadcasting the results. She either has no knowledge of the Constitution or cares little about it, while failing to see the legitimate issue of public safety involved.

 The fact that Cahill and Payne, who left two teenaged sons, died in a fire that injured 10 others should not be looked at as anything less than a tragedy.

 But the autopsy results should also show that the deaths might have been prevented if good judgment replaced bad. And it should be clear that an atmosphere of protective silence that means having your fellow jake’s back should not extend to areas that compromise their safety and the public’s.