For the second time in less than a month we are telling you about a Florida firefighter who is under investigation for comments made on a personal Facebook page. In both cases the postings have offended members of the community.
The first incident involved Miami-Dade Capt. Brian Beckmann who was rather outspoken and labeled a racist by some for his comments about the Trayvon Martin case in mid-April (click here for initial story). A story on May 1 about a protest against Beckmann says the department is still contemplating whether to take any disciplinary action.
Now comes the story of Hialeah firefighter Eric Johnson who was interviewed by WSVN-TV and declared he is “absolutely not” a racist after some posts on his Facebook page attracted attention. Johnson told the reporter he is married to a Cuban and his best friend is African-American. Johnson is the vice-president of the Hialeah Association of Firefighters.
One of the posts in question is a photo of a man riding a scooter with a goat and the caption: “Only in Hialeah. LOL.” “Wasn’t that hilarious or what?” Johnson said when asked about the photo. “I don’t really necessarily see why people would be offended. It’s a picture. It’s in good humor. You have the option of coming on my page and looking at it or not.”
In another posting, Johnson wrote about how he communicates with the people of Hialeah. He says: “I have a system. Just add an ‘o’ to any English word and bam! It works. For example, how ya doin ‘o.’ You wanna go to the hospital ‘o.’ I just learned that you can’t do that when you say is this your home though. Ha Ha.”
Then there are Johnson’s postings about Medicare: “Ha Ha Ha… Jew forgot dat I hab da Medicare… Jew must talk me.”
Johnson also offered an explanation for that comment too. “This is a typical response we get in the city from a lot of people who have government benefits,” he said. “It’s almost like you owe them, you are there at their beck and call, at their service, and mind you, as a public servant, I am, I really am.”
This is WSVN-TV's initial coverage moments after a plane crashed as it took off from Opa-Locka Airport yesterday morning. The plane hit trees and two vehicles and burst into flames as it made a path leading up to a home in Miami Gardens, a community adjacent to the airport. One person, apparently the pilot, was killed.
The news chopper arrived over the scene before Miami-Dade firefighters pulled up. This coverage shows a combination of live video as the first firefighters go to work and video shot immediately after the crash. It also shows the fire department from the Opa-Locka Airport arriving and foaming down the wreckage. Click here for more coverage from WSVN-TV.
All I know about this fire is that firefighters from Miami-Dade arrived to handle it. No date or location given. It turns out the citizen journalist in this case is a child (thanks to one of our readers for solving that mystery).
Five firefighters tumble into the basement: Only two of the firefighters who ended up in the basement when the first floor collapsed at an Anne Arundel County, Maryland house fire yesterday afternoon were sent to the hospital. Neither has life threatening injuries. The video above is from Sky9. I have edited it so all of the shots are in chronological order. The mayday was over when the chopper arrived. The video begins with the Maryland State Police helicopter ready to take off with one of the injured firefighters. You can click here for the slideshow. You will find the fireground audio and many more details about the three-alarm fire here.
Read controversial letter captain read to returning Houston firefighter: The letter that apparently helped push Houston Fire Department Chief Phil Boriskie out the door has now been released. Click here to see the four page document that was presented by Capt. Brian Williamson to Jane Draycott on the day she returned to Station 54, six months after making accusations about racial and sexual grafitti in the women’s locker room. The letter, read aloud to Draycott, Chief Boriskie and others, listed reasons why the crew did not want Draycott back at the firehouse. Also, an investigator in the grafitti case says, that despite news reports, Draycott and another female firefighter are not suspects in the case. Click here, here and here for the latest.
“That is all bogus and lies and fabrications” – FDNY EMTs tell their side of the story: Two EMT/dispatchers for FDNY are scheduled to be back to work today after being accused of not providing medical help to a dying woman while on break at the Au Bon Pain near the dispatch center in Brooklyn. For the first time Jason Green and Melisa Jackson tell their story. Click here to read the details.
More from Haiti: Virginia Task Force 2 has been making news in Haiti. The team was heading back to its base on Tuesday when it was flagged down and brought to what used to be a three-story home. There they rescued a boy and girl who had been in the rubble for seven days. Here’s the story. You can follow VA-TF2 on its website and Facebook page.
So, why didn’t the closest team go to Haiti first?: There are some unhappy people in Florida over the fact that the Miami-Dade USAR Team, sitting within easy striking distance of Haiti, didn’t get the first call. There was a time they would have been at the top of the list. But Miami-Dade was dropped from that list after an audit revealed it had overbilled the federal government for some of its trips in the 90s. Specifically, it was an effort to hide the cost of overtime for firefighters to backfill the positions of team members who were deployed. It is a cost the federal government now reimburses. The fire chief says that all happened under old management and wants to see the team back in the first-call category for international responses. Read the story. Watch the story.
Felon hired in Memphis may be tip of the iceberg: A Memphis, Tennessee TV station has been all over the case of Lawrence Batiste a firefighter currently facing a variety of charges including domestic violence, assault, drugs and alcohol. WLMT-TV reports that Batiste was hired by the Memphis Fire Department despite being canned by the Shelby County Fire Department when a previous felony was discovered. But it appears the Memphis Fire Department will be facing more scrutiny. STATter911.com has seen FOIA documents that indicate this problem goes beyond FF Lawrence Batiste. Here’s the latest story.
Captain accused of pretending to be a Klan member is fired: Accusations that he used a pillow case to pretend to be a member of the KKK and made a racially insensitive remark have brought the dismissal of a Captain Robert “Danny” Heil at Pleasure Ridge Park Fire Protection District board in Kentucky. Read the story.
147 firefighters told to be at a meeting Friday about layoffs: That’s the story from Tulsa. Click here.