Let me give a shout out and some Christmas love to the THE Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz. He did find the video of the day (what do they say about squirrels who don’t see so well?). You all know how much I love citizen commentary on these videos. Rhett has discovered what will go down as a classic in this genre. Good job Rhett (to tell you the truth I didn’t even know Rhett was still blogging).
The scene is a house fire Christmas Eve in Corpus Christi, Texas. A woman’s voice is heard throughout talking to a man. She is a neighbor. The woman makes it clear from the start of the video she isn’t happy with the performance of the fire department. She mentions it a dozen times. Here are all her comments from the beginning of the video until 1:36:
They’re too slow. They’re too slow. They’re too damn slow. Those guys are really slow. They are too slow. They are slow as hell. That’s not the fire department, is it? They are taking forever, right? Too long, they don’t even have their gear on. These guys right here don’t even have their gear on. They’re too slow. It’s already been over five minutes since I got out here.
Too slow! From this to this in 2:30.
By my view you start to clearly see steam around 1:30 on the video. The flames begin to die down and vanish by 2:25 or so.
At 2:31 the woman suddenly takes note that orange stuff has gone away but she isn’t exactly sure who is doing it. It slowly dawns on her it’s the firefighters:
Well somebody is putting it out because it went down. That went down already. Are they on the other side? That was quick. It’s gone already.
It’s a shame you just can’t find quite quality holiday gifts for those little firefighters in your life like anymore. The Texaco Class A pumper in the advertisement above from 50-years or so ago would have been just perfect for that little fellow in my life (that would be the one in the picture below who calls himself THE Fire Critic). He so wants to grow up to be a firefighter. Also, $3.98 is all I’m willing to spend on him (he treats me very poorly).
When you get to the STATter911.com Facebook page just leave a message in the comments under the contest post at the top (the very first post). After you enter, make sure you hit “like” on the STATter911.com page so you can stay updated on the contest and get the latest videos and news from STATter911.com.
You can also enter the contest by sending an email to email@example.com. Just one entry per person, please. The deadline for entries is Friday, December 21, 2012 at 12 noon EST. We will announce the winners on Monday, December 24.
You have to admit he sure is cute. He’s 17 now and waiting for that growth spurt. Don’t forget, the little Fire Cricket and his uncle, Iron Firemen’s Willie Wines Jr., also have some free stuff to give away. Make sure you check out their contest.
But before you go, take a moment to watch the holiday message below from the “extended” STATter911.com family.
But a prank in Houston is making headlines and has Jeffrey Caynon, the president of the Houston Professional Firefighters Association, telling KHOU-TV, “We have a storied history in the fire service in terms of pranks and jokes. But I think everybody understands that there’s a limit and where that limit is.”
I am guessing if eveyone really did understand the limit, Houston’s Office of Inspector General wouldn’t be investigating some of the members (or at least one of the member’s members) of Houston Fire Department Station 29.
HFD sources told KHOU 11 News that the incident occurred last month at Fire Station 29. According to sources, it involved a firefighter who allegedly placed his privates or a sex object on the back and neck area of another firefighter.
Sources said the incident may have been intended as a prank, but it prompted an official complaint and an OIG investigation.
The beautiful and very talented Mary Arnold, owner of Box Alarm Leather, visited Booth #743 at the Baltimore Convention Center on Thursday. Mary brought two things with her, her husband Andrew (not as beautiful and talented, but a great guy) and a surprise gift for the publisher of this rag you are reading. The present is in the picture above and the Arnolds are in the one below.
Apparently Mary must be familiar with someone who is a Keyboard Incident Commander (KIC) at STATter911.com. So, now that we have a shield for KICs we need to work on certification and continuing education. While at Firehouse Expo I was engaged in discussions with some of the top fire service educators in the nation about providing the courses. I don’t have a lot of details yet, but the one thing I am certain about from these talks is that whatever we come up with will involve sending me a lot of money. That’s something we like at STATter911.com.
If you are not aware, Box Alarm Leather specializes in handcrafted custom leather fire helmet shields and firefighter radio straps. Please check them out. An exceptional product from exceptional people. I still haven’t stopped chuckling over this.
Thursday’s NFFF 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb was, as always, a joy to witness. If you missed it, there was a lot of news coverage. You can read and watch those stories here, here, here, here, here, here and here.
One of the other high points for me at Firehouse Expo was the Chief’s Leadership Forum on Wednesday. Thanks to all of those who were at the session and helped further the discussion on handling bad news.
Documenting the booth’s visitors, as usual, was Mike Legeros of Legeros Fire Blog fame. Mike shows up each year just to take pictures of old broken down firefighters to go along with the many photos he has of old and broken down firehouses.
But Mike went for the younger crowd too with his visit to the MN8-Foxfire booth. Each time we stopped by, MN8-Foxfire President Zach Green begged me to take THE Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz back. But all the geezers at the Firegeezer booth said no. They were enjoying not having the disruptive environment of a teenager under foot as in previous years. The only way they would take Rhett back is with his guardian IronFiremen.com’s Willie Wines Jr. to provide adult supervision. Zach was not about to give up Willie. Willie is way too valuable to the MN8-Foxfire operation (read Fireboy’s somewhat fictional account of Expo).
Below is a complilation of Mike’s pictures from three days embedded with the Geezer Gang (which includes actual geezers and geezers in training). Missing from the booth this year was our friend FossilMedic Mike Ward who couldn’t join us because of business obligations. It just wasn’t the same without you Mike. Notice I didn’t say it was worse Mike. Just not the same.
All of that in the headline can only mean one thing, a trip to the homeland for Dave. Hope you are joining us in Baltimore this year for Firehouse Expo. Below is a list of some of the places where you are likely to see me (it’s also helpful for those who want to avoid me).
NFFF 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb: The climb is on Thursday this year. Make sure you sign up here. Last year you made a big difference by helping to directly fund some important FDNY programs. The video above is from last year’s climb in Baltimore. I will be cheering you on. One of those climbing is my friend Walter Patterson, from Grove City, Pennsylvania. This is Walter’s sixth climb! He will do number seven in Philly in September. Also, while at Firehouse Expo stop by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation booth (2504).
Bad news Dave: On Wednesday morning I will be talking about how to handle the bad news at the Chief’s Leadership Forum. Should be an interesting discussion. Click here for more.
One of our two little guys will not be at Booth 743 this year. We are happy though that the one with the personality in the yellow outfit is staying. A Mike Legeros photo.
We’ve already found replacements for Willie & Rhett at the Geezer booth: Meanhile at Booth #743 with Firegeezer Bill Schumm, life goes on without the joy boys from Roanoke. We are happy that Fireboy, now 17, has found gainful employment through his Uncle Willie. Though we will miss little Rhett, we wasted little time finding his replacement (clearly we are not missing him that much). Joining us is Helge “Call me Hagar” Nordtveit, a fire captain from Cranford, New Jersey. Hagar is helping spread the gospel of my friend Frank Field and Frank’s great fire prevention and safety video for middle schoolers, Fire Is!. Also, once again this year firefighter and author Will Wyatt from Texas will be at the booth. I’ve told you before, make sure you read his book And A Paycheck, Too. It’s quite funny (as is Will in person). When you come by the booth I am going to quiz you on whether you’ve read it (you need to know on what page STATter911.com is mentioned). If you fail, we will expect you to buy the book on the spot. Come buy Booth #743, there is almost always a good conversation going on. And we can talk like adults now that you know who is gone. I will say with the teen not there, the average age will go way up (not to mention the IQ) and it really will be the Geezer booth.
FOOLS Baltimore Brotherhood Bash: Starts at 3:00 on Thursday at Powerplant Live! Hosted by the Central Maryland and Northern Virginia FOOLS, this event raises money for the Metropolitan Firefighters Burn Fund ! Sign up your team for the Cornhole Tournament that starts at 3! Beer cups for sale $10 at the FOOLS table ay Expo, $15 at the gate! There will be a Dunk Tank, and a Bull Riding Competition!!!! Click here.
Fully Involved Comedy Tour: I am hoping to be able to juggle things so I can see one of the two shows Thursday night with comedian Ralphie May at the Sheraton. The proceeds benefit the NYC Bravest Scholarship Fund, Feal Good Foundation, Terry Farrell Fund and the 9/11 Patch Project Fund. The opening act is escape artist Spencer Horsman. Click here for the details.
This is how I envision my road trip to the Ohio Fire & Emergency Services Foundation’s 2012 Leadership Conference in May with Iron Firemen’s Willie Wines and THE Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz (I am sure we will get into some kind of trouble). Join us at the Cherry Valley Lodge in Newark, Ohio for the presentation from Rhett and me titled Effective Communications in the Digital Age (click here to sign up). Among the topics will be image building and reputation management in the social media era when all of your hard work can be destroyed at the speed of light (like what I am doing now with this post … do as I say, not as I do).
I figure Rhett is the little one, Willie is the skinny one and I’m the … well you know, I’ve been losing weight.
From left to right, Dave, little Rhett and Willie.
Travelling showmen hailing from the mysterious land of Réndøosîa (a fictional Eastern Europeancountry that experiences an unusually high rate of natural disasters), the three Adrenalini brothers (Xan, Enk and Adi) eat, sleep and breathe danger. They tour around the world staging ridiculously hazardous stunts, not so much to make a living as because they enjoy the adrenaline rush. In their travels, the Adrenalinis have visited many countries in the world, and even many periods in history (and, in some cases, fiction).
Mr Fleitz says similar sites are quite popular in the US. He has a local nemesis, Dave Statter, who runs statter911.com.
They’re good friends who “love to hate each other”, Mr Fleitz says.
“Some say he was a firefighter for a couple of days back in 1974 … I doubt it.”
The main focus of the article is Fireboy pontificating on the greater meaning of those Minnesota firefighters handling a vehicle fire while dressed in drag. I’m assuming Mr. Farquhar went right to the expert on that specific firefighting speciality. Fleitz told him that he could have gotten out of that dress, in full PPE and on air in under two minutes (again, I am not making this up). I assume this is based on experience.
It’s those loyal readers who so kindly voted for STATter911.com and made us the reader’s choice in the Fire Blog of the Year contest run by Mr. Fleitz and the kind folks at FireRescue1.com. The same contest Mr. Fleitz originally said we couldn’t be a part of because I am not a firefighter.
I assume Fireboy took his grudge match to the other side of the world because few people are buying his claims about me in the U.S.
We do sincerely congratulate Mr. Fleitz for getting this international recognition and hosting the contest.
We will have a lot to talk about when we make a trip to Newark, Ohio together in May for the Ohio Fire & Emergency Services Foundation’s 2012 Leadership Conference (click here to sign up). IronFiremen.com‘s Willie Wines Jr. will be along to referee.
In Ohio we will be talking about various aspects of social media and the fire service. But I assume Fleitz is already busy working on the PowerPoint for future presentations featuring this other expertise of his. The course, “PPE in under two, evening gown and all”, will make its debut in 2013. First stop for Fleitz, Sedan, Minnesota, of course.
Fireboy lashes out on the same day he’s forced to announce what he already knew in his heart, that STATter911.com is the most popular fire service blog. By the way, BackstepFirefighter.com is the judge’s choice.
(Note: While I have apologized and given up my involvement in writing The Fire Critic, Willie Wines apparently is having a tougher time letting go. There is a brand new post attacking me and the people who read STATter911.com. Click here. Personal note to Capt. Wines – Willie, it's over. You can't put the genie back in the bottle. Give it a rest.)
If you saw Part 1 of our investigation into the website FireCritic.com you know that we have determined rather conclusively that there is no Lt. Rhett Fleitz in the Roanoke Fire Department. But it left open the question of who then is The Fire Critic (AKA Fireboy from Roanoke). Who has been writing the website FireCritic.com all of this time?
The shocking answer is in the video above. Our lawyers at STATter911.com World Headquarters advised us strongly not to run this story. But we thought it extremely important that the truth finally come out.
"Amber", a self-described Fire Critic groupie, with her man/boy. But just who is this guy who claims to be a Roanoke fire lieutenant? Capt. Willie Wines, who took this picture, comes clean in the video above and it isn't a pretty picture.
Before you watch Part 2 we should share with you comments from two of our readers quite concerned (and rightfully so) about what we reported in Part 1. Here are the actual comments:
… this kid (supposedly) from Roanoke has been on line how long? Nobody from there noticed he didn't exist? Child sociopaths turn into adult sociopaths and this kid needs help. Some motivation via Trademark infringement suits might get him the help he needs.
The sad part is this kid is setting himself to destroy any chance of a career in the fire service, which to his credit he seems to love. Imagine doing the background check on this kid…
I couldn't agree with these readers more. This is all an outrage. And yes, maybe the authorities need to investigate.
As for any part I may have inadvertently played in helping further this ruse on an unsuspecting fire service web community, I offer the following message straight from my heart (and from Chuck in our PR department):
You will notice I am telling you first about this issue before you hear it elsewhere. It became clear there was nothing to gain by waiting for some smartass reporter (like FossilMedic) to uncover this problem. It was only a matter of time before it leaked out. In addition to getting the news to you first, I am getting it out, getting it right and getting it behind me.
So, let me share with you the steps I am taking. I have ordered a thorough investigation into how this Fire Critic crisis occurred. We will be using a team of outside investigators to insure impartiality. We tried to get J. Gordon Routley to lead that time, but Chief Routley had a prior commitment. (Dave, I have checked the budget. We can't afford Routley, Chuck in PR.)
Instead, I have asked Benny, our 12-year-old neighbor who is really a whiz on the Internet, to trace the digital trail and provide us some answers on how this could go so terribly wrong. Benny has promised me he will get to it as soon as he and my son Sam are finished with their latest battle in Call of Duty. We will share Benny's findings and recommendations with you when they are available.
I will be checking myself into a 12-step program in the morning. (Dave, I have checked all over the country, there is no program for egotistical bloggers who make fun of short people … Chuck.)
In addition, I have spent time today with my spiritual advisor, the Firegeezer Gnome, who I am certain will help me find my digital way once again. (Dave, have you checked with Schumm on this? I really don't think the Gnome counts as an important religious leader … Chuck.)
Please be certain that I take full responsibility for my actions and the actions of my staff at STATter911.com. Remember, the buck stops here. (Dave, fill in other clichés as needed … Chuck.)
To all of those I've hurt, I sincerely apologize. And I particularly regret dragging my family into this unfortunate situation. (Dave, both Hill and Sam have made it clear they will not be standing beside you if you decide to do a press conference, so I advise just go with the written statement … Chuck.)
I am sure most of you have seen the pictures and maybe even the website and wondered how this could be true. A boy, who can't be more than 14-years-old, claiming to be a firefighter in Roanoke, Virginia. Actually, not just a firefighter, but a lieutenant. And on top of it, this teenager claims to have enough experience in the fire service to write a blog and proclaim he is THE Fire Critic.
Some of you may know him from a series of animated films as Fireboy from Roanoke. He says his real name is Rhett Fleitz. Furthermore, in many comments on FireCritic.com and elsewhere, this Fleitz guy has been telling people for quite some time that Dave Statter has never been a firefighter. And to make matters worse, he has referred to the readers who comment on STATter911.com as "trolls".
Well, some of those "trolls" have been sending me emails and comments with tips on a story I should cover about Rhett Fleitz. But I had given up being a reporter 14-months-ago and vowed to leave the reporting to others. As more of these tips came in, many of them from firefighters in the Roanoke area, I found it too hard to ignore and just had to check them out.
Basically, the tips indicated that The Fire Critic was pointing the finger at me to take the focus off of himself. That, in fact, Rhett Fleitz was not a firefighter and there was no Lt. Rhett Fleitz in the Roanoke Fire Department.
It turns out there is even more to this story than we could tell you in the video. Right now we have the lawyers working overtime at STATter911.com World Headquarters trying to determine if we can even reveal the entire truth about all we have learned. Stay tuned for more.
Fire Rescue International is ending a little sooner than expected for some East Coast fire chiefs. They have been watching the weather closely for a couple of days. Now, with the projected path of Hurricane Irene hugging the coast, many of these chiefs have booked flights leaving early this morning.
But if you are staying (and plenty are), please come see me this morning. I will be in Room B313 from 10:30 AM until noon with Today's PIO: Building Reputation Equity in the Digital Age. We will be looking at a lot of stories straight out of the pages of STATter911.com.
If you don't think you can take 90 minutes of me or my blog (and who could blame you), check out Room B308 for Lights, Camera and All the Action of Media Relations. My friends Billy Hayes and Mike Brooks will be doing the second part of a two parter that I am sure will be informative and interesting. Mike, who couldn't make up his mind on whether he wanted to be a cop or a firefighter when he grew up, did both. Then he completely lost his mind by becoming a part of the news media at CNN and HLN. I can assure you he's not just another pretty face.
And speaking of not just another pretty face, if I you get bored with my class after a half hour, at 11:00 THE Fire Critic himself, Rhett Fleitz, will be at the Firehouse Cafe: Concourse B, Level 3. Rhett is moderating a discussion on Social Media and Incorporating Technology in the Workplace.
I guess if you were complaining about that crying baby in seat 15A this isn't going to put you in a better mood. But if, instead, you want to bask in the afterglow of a successful and enjoyable stay in Indy the video above will fit right in. The firefighters and others aboard this Southwest Airlines flight received a special treat. That's John Flynn, a member of the Palm Beach County Firefighter Pipes & Drums Corps. The video is from the FirefighterNation.com and Go Forward Media team.
My flight back on Saturday was a bit quieter, but carried quite a few returning from FDIC. I am just catching up and checking the web for some things at FDIC that I missed while shooting and editing videos for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
While I knew about it, I didn't get to see my friend Brian Kazmierzak receive the Fire Engineering/ISFSI George D. Post Instructor of the Year Award (above). Brian is the division chief for training and safety with Indiana's Clay Fire Territory. I have come to know Brian quite well in his role as director of operations at The Secret List and Firefighter Close calls. Taking a cue from Bobby Halton, I would describe him as the brains behind the moustache (sorry Billy, but it was too good to pass up). Congratulations Brian!
Speaking of Goldfeder, after Billy's run-in at NFFF's Stop, Drop, Rock 'n' Roll with Roanoke's Captain Willie Wines Jr., a walrus at the Indianapolis Zoo committed suicide because he didn't think he could compete with these two. We should have some video up of Stop, Drop, Rock 'n' Rollin the next couple of days. Auctioneer and NFFF board member Goldfeder brought in more than $30,000 with the live auction.
NFFF also walked away from FDIC with a $10,000 check from Streamlight. In the video above you can see how to support NFFF by buying Streamlight's special little Red Nano Light with the NFFF logo. It's on sale at The Fire Store from the Witmer Public Safety Group.
One of the highlights of FDIC for me was watching the 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb on Friday (video to follow, soon). I had been involved in a very small way with my work for NFFF in helping with the publicity for this event. So, I was very aware of what this was all about and how it would work. But being there and watching it up close is a very different thing. You should think about sponsoring one in your community to honor the upcoming tenth anniversary of the loss of 343 firefighters. Click here for details. Also, there is another 9-11 Memorial Stair Climb on April 6 at CFSI in Washington. Sign up here.
I needed an assistant in shooting the stair climb event. The picture above is by THE Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz.
Lt. Fleitz was detailed to my command by his supervisor and father, Captain Wines. As you can imagine neither of us was very happy with this arrangement. We somehow got through it. The picture above, taken by Bill Carey, was shot during the event. There is something very odd about the photo, considering we were both standing. Can't put my finger on it. Is it possible Rhett has been heightening?
And then there is this picture (above). Somehow I was seated at a table with this guy for dinner Friday night. I was just there to have a meal with my friends Billy Hayes, Mike Brooks and some folks from Columbia Southern University. Erik says he's a deputy sheriff in Bedford County, Virginia. I am assuming he wanted the photo because he's a big STATter911.com fan (who isn't? …I mean, besides Fleitz). It was strange, after dinner people from other tables kept coming up wanting their pictures taken with Erik. Must be a very popular sheriff's department.
Rhett Fleitz has announced to the world he will be at the JEMS & FireEMSBlogs.com Meetup (sponsored by Physio Control) tonight at Uno Chicago Grill – Harborplace Pratt Street Pavilion, 201 East Pratt Street, 2nd floor in Baltimore from 8:00 until 11:00. Captain Willie Wines, his chaperone, body guard and driver, is on the way to Baltimore with this true fire and EMS celebrity as I write this.
Please line up early for the self-proclaimed King of Fire & EMS blogs to sign your FireCritic.com paraphenalia. Be orderly. We don’t want Willie the Moustache to have to break bad on you. And please, please, don’t speak to the King until he speaks to you first. And whatever you do, don’t touch him (that’s protocol with royalty and he’s also very fragile). I have been assured that Willie has the fake ID so King Rhett can get in the place and won’t have to sit outside like last time.
I believe there will be some other bloggers there (including me). But we know that’s not important when the King is around.
Despite this rare and important event for his loyal subjects, STATter911.com has learned all may not be well in the Kingdom. This little video above will give you a preview of what to expect in Baltimore.
Previous discussions of emergency scene photography & videography on STATter911.com can be found here, here, here & here.
My friend Rhett Fleitz posted the video above on his site FireCritic.com yesterday. I can’t say I blame Rhett for doing so. It is the type of video that most of the fire/EMS bloggers would run (including me) because it’s unusual and is probably of interest to our audience (and judging by the more than 100 thousand hits, it is isn’t just fire and EMS people interested in this one).
Rhett wrote the following:
Bonus Video of a patient at a house fire giving the medics the finger! This freakin guys is hilarious! I don’t have a clue what is going on here, other than firefighting is not one of them!
With Rhett not providing any background, I was curious about the story behind it. So I did a few minutes of research.
It turns out the fire occurred in January of this year on Stewart Avenue in Nanaimo, British Columbia. As you will hear in the news video below, the man being wheeled out and putting on a bit of a show for the crowd is physically disabled. Firefighters found him in his cottage on the property and carried him to safety (seen on the video). Firefighters say they didn’t put water on the fire immediately due to a downed power line at the burning home.
To me, both of these videos are very interesting in that they bring up a lot of news judgment and ethical questions for both traditional media and those of us in the blogging world. I will admit, now that I know the man is disabled (something I am sure Rhett didn’t know), I feel a little dirty about running it. I am sure I will rightfully get criticism for posting it anyway, but my reasoning is that I want to illustrate this issue (some will call that a convenient excuse and I wouldn’t blame them a bit). But I don’t think running a video on my blog that is all over the Internet will necessarily cause any additional harm (more pitiful justification by Dave).
Maybe I have lost my hard edge since leaving TV in June, but I am even questioning if I would I have run the video in the news story of two firefighters carrying the man to safety. I know news directors who, upon learning of the disability, would be concerned about the man’s dignity and ordered that it not air or that we cover up the man’s face. At the same time photographs and video of firefighters rescuing people have long been a staple of the news media and are some of the most powerful images many of us have seen. The dignity of the victims in those pictures is usually not a topic of discussion.
In previous postings (see links above) many of you think there should be restrictions on showing stuff like this, or wrongly believe it is a HIPAA violation (if this was in the U.S.). Others have pointed out the news media often sanitizes things too much and we should show the public what it’s really like. Usually I fall in the “show the reality” category. The “reality” for fire and EMS bloggers could include video of a guy shooting the bird to an EMS crew (something TV news isn’t likely to show).
Let me be clear that I absolutely defend the right of both photographers to shoot the video and to air or post it. The same goes with what Rhett and I have done. To me the question of, “Can you do this?” isn’t even up for debate. It’s a question of should we.
With 38 years in the news business I have had to make a lot of these decisions. Some are easier than others. This one has me a bit stumped. What do you think?
The Fire Critic finds his own must see video: Rhett Fleitz posted this first last night on FireCritic.com. It is from a week ago at 22 SE 9th Drive in Pendleton, Oregon. At the :35 mark the firefighter on the porch roof taking out a window finds it warming up very quickly and is engulfed in flames for a moment. There were no injuries reported. Also from the Fire Critic (my wife came up with and likes the name Fire Cricket better), Rhett shows us just how out of touch with reality he can be with his very first effort at directing a video. The feature stars the two people he most admires and wants to be like when and if he grows up. Please take a look. Rhett produced this video because he is feeling a little left out of the conversation these days and doesn’t think his fellow bloggers pay enough attention to him. Please cheer him up by clicking here and letting him know how much you like his video (even if you really don’t).
Who knew there was a Blue Ball Fire Company outside of Pennsylvania?: This one is in Freeport, New York and it’s fire chief has been suspended for thirty days. All because of blue balls. Blue plastic balls found by Freeport’s mayor in the cab of a fire truck. It is an interesting and unusual story. You don’t want to miss it. Click here.
Collapse video: In case you missed it there is good video of a wall collapse during a fire at a truck parts store with apartments above in Stroud Township, Pennsylvania. There were also some small explosions. Check it out.
Bracing for layoffs in Camden, New Jersey: It’s a busy fire department in a run down city with lots to burn. They haven’t had a recruit class in more than four years. But the plan right now is to lay off 30 percent of the firefighters plus gut the police department. Here’s the latest.
Another house fire in Kosciusko, Mississippi: This is the third one we’ve posted in a month with raw video from Kosyonline.com. Watch the video.
The anonymity of the Internet: Regular reader John Sachen sent this one along and while it is not specifically fire or EMS related it is well worth reading. It is titled, Online Anonymity Breeds Contempt. The New York Times op-ed piece by Julie Zhuo includes this line, “Morality, Plato argues, comes from full disclosure; without accountability for our actions we would all behave unjustly.” The column points out there is no accountability with the anonymity the Internet can provide and society may not be the better for that. Check it out.
Budget trumps need to recruit paramedics: In Montgomery County, Maryland the County Council clearly said no to a plan to raise the pay for paramedics to get it closer to what others in the region are paying. Chief Richard Bowers pointed out that only ten of the last 2600 applicants had ALS training. Here’s more.
Union fighting 24/48 shift change: In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania the mayor says she can save lots of money by moving firefighters to a 24 hours on and 48 hours off shift and cut 12 positions in the process. The issue is said to be $1.6 million dollars in OT. The union has been strongly against this and has scheduled a press conference for later today. Here’s more.
Union president disciplined for refusing to work 72-hours straight: In Winchester, Kentucky a letter of reprimand has been ordered by the Winchester City Commission for a firefighter who refused to work three days straight during a busy period. Raymond Patrick, the union president in Winchester, declined a supervisor’s order last month to keep working though a second extra 24-hour shift. Here’s the story.
Raw video from Prince George’s County, Maryland restaurant fire: The Pizza Hut in Upper Marlboro was heavily damaged around 4:30 yesterday morning. This is Morningside VFD video. Click here for a WUSA9.com slide show.
Our friends at FireEMSblogs.com including Backstep Firefighter Bill Carey and Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz have been running something called a blog carnival for a while. Looking at some of the silliness that has been going on in the fire blogosphere of late, a three-ring circus might be a better description. The idea is for a bunch of us write about the same topic and it is all posted together. This is my first carnival but not my first rodeo.
ChiefReasonArt.com lowers its standards. Click the image to lower yours.
This time the goal is for us to come up with a social media policy for our departments. Obviously I don’t have a department to write a policy for. When I did have a department, more than 30-years-ago, we didn’t have social media, just social diseases. Now we have both. I guess it’s progress that you can blog about your social disease and how you caught it.
I gave the project of coming up with this policy to my crack staff here at STATter911.com’s World Headquarters. The video above is what they came up with.
If you can sit through latest in the back and forth that has taken place between Iron Firemen’s Willie Wines and Rhett (more on that in a second) there are actually some nuggets of useful information (seriously). My top ten suggestions for firefighters using social media are buried somewhere in the video.
You will also find that in many ways the video itself is a good example of why you need to have good social media practices.
Now, for the few who have been following the three-way blog/video conversation that Willie, Rhett and I have been entertaining ourselves with, there is bad news. It has grown. It is now a foursome.
Seriously, what does this guy Fleitz have against me that he would publish these old photos? Have I done something to him?
Art Goodrich has added his mighty pen to this battle of nitwits (you would think he would be smarter than to get involved with us). Art may be the only one who has any real talent. He can actually write.
Please view ChiefReasonArt.com’s I-Team investigation (did you know there is no “you” in I-Team?) on my running battle with The Fire Cricket (AKA Fireboy from Roanoke, King of the Fire Blogs, Cotton Candy & Willie’s Little Buddy). Art somehow penetrated the security at the STATter911.com World Headquarters Building. You can read what he found at CSI – Roanoke; Special Blogs Unit.
I have prepared an official response to this absolutely scurrilous report. Here is my statement:
It has come to our attention that a blogger who goes by the name Chief Reason Art has made some allegations about our operation. We are distressed that a former fire chief and respected member of the fire service community would print what amount to lies and innuendo. At the advice of legal counsel we will not be able to provide specifics about any of these allegations and will have no further comment on this matter.
These assaults on me are coming from many different directions (including my own people). The video below (from IronFiremen.com’s Willie Wines) was apparently shot in an emergency department in Roanoke. It includes someone they claim is me standing over a gurney carrying an apparently unconscious fire blogger. You will have to view it to get the full context.
And finally The Fire Cricket checks in from Roanoke. He has uncovered two pictures from my past that I am sure my enemies (and there are many) will enjoy seeing. I really don’t understand why this guy Fleitz is after me. Seriously, what have I done to tick him off?
Firefighter trapped after rig rolls in San Antonio: One firefighter was trapped for about an hour last night as colleagues tried to free his foot after a ladder truck rolled on the way to a call. Injuries to all four on the rig are described as relatively minor.
Firefighter injured in Howard County, Maryland: A firefighter fell fifteen feet down a ravine and was ”mildly injured” last night while tending to a man who was struck by a train in Ellicott City. Here’s more.
From South Carolina, our old friend Pat Walsh sends along this Murrells Inlet/Garden City Fire Department picture from a three-alarm condo fire early Sunday morning. Click the image to learn more about the fire.
Firefighter Chance Zobel: In Columbia, South Carolina they are remembering Firefighter Chance Zobel who was killed over the weekend after being struck by a vehicle while fighting a brush fire on I-20. Click here for the latest. For our earlier coverage on the crash that also critically injured Firefighter Larry Irving, click here.
Pittsburgh firefighter almost falls through the roof: The firefighter was able to catch himself as part of the roof collapsed at a house fire last night. He suffered minor injuries. Here’s more.
Jessie’s (a) girl: Firegeezer has the story of the London Fire Brigade commander who used to be known as Paul and know wants to be called Jessica. The firefighters have been given sensitivity training and a terse warning that, despite knowing this person as a he for quite some time, there will be discipline for those who don’t refer to their boss as a she. I can imagine that a fire station is one of the more challenging environments to try to make this work. Click here for the details.
Firefighter killed in rocket fuel explosion at home: James McGovern, a 22-year-old volunteer with the Longwood Fire Company in suburban Philadelphia died Saturday after experimenting with homemade fuel for his model rockets. Here’s the story.
Two-alarms in Catasauqua, Pennsylvania: Newsworking.org gets some early video from another fire. This one was reported at 2:39 yesterday afternoon. A well-involved home at 10 School Street with exposure problems.
The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz was the first with this story shortly after it occurred on the Upper West Side of Manhattan yesterday. Rhett found a :20 clip on YouTube showing the burning ambulance after firefighters arrived. The video above is pre-arrival and lasts for a while and through a couple of pops and explosions from inside the unit.
You will see a tow truck in position in front of the ambulance as it’s parked on 59th Street in front of the Emergency Department at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital. Rhett reports the crane had already been called because of some sort problem with the ambulance and was about to be tow it to the repair shop when the fire broke out. The ambulance is a St. Luke’s unit.
On the other side of the street is the John Jay College of Criminal Justice which evacuated its North Hall building (and sent the students and faculty out into the streets).
Click the image below for a slideshow from dnainfo.com:
Rhett Fleitz is a small, but easy target. It isn’t just me. Take a look at what one his closest friends did to Rhett today. Willie Wines has two interesting pictures and a lot to say about his “little buddy” on the IronFiremen.com site.
Rhett has put it all out there on various blogs for longer than most of us. These days you see a lot of this work on VAFireNews.com and FireCritic.com. Despite my pounding on him for his poorly thought out position on the Tennessee “pay for spray case”, I do sometimes like the guy. Mostly because he makes me laugh.
We have run many videos and stories where firefighters are making fun of the police. In this case it’s the cops taking on fire and EMS and it is quite funny (that is if you are able to laugh at yourself a bit).
Rhett gives his Monday morning “shout outs” to highlight various fire and EMS blogs. This is our Tuesday afternoon “wave” to Rhett Fleitz. And ths time I am doing it with all of the fingers.
Early video from fatal fire in British Columbia: Looks like two cameras were on the scene rolling as firefighters in Delta, BC pulled up Monday on what appears to be a relatively small fire inside a commercial garage. A man was found dead inside. Witnesses reported hearing a small explosion. Here’s more.
Fallout from Spalding County, Georgia cell phone video: The traffic on STATter911.com yesterday was double what a normal day is. The story I posted on Monday about the firefighter who took video of a woman’s dead body at the scene of a car crash had five to six times the readership of what a popular story usually has and it handily beat the numbers for the blog’s main page. I am not saying this to brag. It’s to point out the reputation issues facing firefighters from this incident. I guarantee you it’s not firefighters who are accounting for my sudden popularity. This traffic is coming from Google searches and is mostly the general public looking for more on a story that has grabbed their attention in the U.S. and around the world. If you don’t believe me, put the word “firefighter” in YouTube’s search engine and choose “today” under search options. Look at how many videos have popped up making reference to this, mostly from people wanting to take advantage of the interest in this story. Both the NBC Today Show and the CBS Early Show featured this story yesterday morning. I think there are lessons to learn from this incident on a number of levels. Here’s my view of it.
Some rules for the road (or the cell phone camera) from Billy G: As you will read in the link above, we have been discussing this issue of picture taking by firefighters since the earliest days of STATter911.com. Billy Goldfeder at Firefighter Close Calls/The Secret List has also thought about this topic for a while. He came up with some general guidelines that are well worth reading. Check it out.
Ambulance plunges into lake killing crew: Firegeezer has a detailed report on the tragic situation on Vancouver Island where a British Columbia Ambulance Service crew was killed. Their ambulance plunged into the frigid Kennedy Lake. Click here for the story.
New York firefighter dies during POV response: William Akin, a 52-year-old volunteer with the Ghent Fire Company, died last night after his pickup truck hit a pole during Akin’s response to a reported traffic collision. Firefighter Nation has the details.
A beer BLEVE: In Oak Ridge, Tennessee a fire at a restaurant and bar’s storage building resulted in an exploding beer keg. Firefighters say parts of it flew 50 yards. Here’s more.
Toddler killed in Winchester, Virginia fire: A four-year-old girl died in a fire that also injured her little cousin and her grandmother. Read the details.
Obion County, TN area chief to guest on Firefighter Netcast: John Mitchell and Rhett Fleitz have convinced Union City Fire Department Chief Kelly Edmison to join their gabfest Thursday night at 9:00. The topic, of course, is the latest move by commissioners to expand subscription fire service coverage to the rest of the county despite the fire chiefs pushing for a fire tax. Here’s the link.
Rescue reunion: It took 14-years but a Methuen, Massachusetts fire lieutenant and the mother and daughter he helped save from a fire were reunited. The family sought out the firefighter because of a special occasion. Read the story.
Both Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz and I ran a video from an apartment fire in San Francisco Sunday morning that is being looked at as a possible arson. Rhett said the impression from the short clip was that the truck work seemed to be going at a much faster pace than the engine company operations. In fact, on this much longer clip (above), you can hear a lot of citizen fire critics wondering where the water was on this fire. As Rhett surmised, there was more to the story. He received an explanation from San Francisco FF/PM Justin Schorr, known as The Happy Medic:
After speaking to some of the first due folks, initial report was nothing showing from the street. Crews made entry to find the building charged with smoke, struck a working fire. Entry was delayed due to the entry door barricaded from the inside. Lines were eventually led through the window inside to make the door.
Crews were able to ventilate natural openings and a lot of heat made a search of the floor above trouble.
This looks to be a 4 story type 5, likely with 12 units. Zero clearance on the sides, no easy view of the rear of the building. Getting to the roof ASAP is the easiest way to do the “360″ and check all exposures, lightwells, secondary victims etc, hence the quick sticks.
First due truck closed for Baltimore fatal: Firegeezer takes a look at a fatal fire in Baltimore and the potential impact of rotating closures. Read the details.
While you are in Geezerland you must take a moment to look at the story FossilMedic Mike Ward has dug up. It is the video of a British helicopter pilot doing a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan. The chopper comes under fire, the aircraft is heavily damaged and Lt. Ian Fortune, the pilot, is struck in the head. Talk about keeping cool under fire and getting the job done. Watch this.
Update your widget: The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has redesigned its widget. If you have a website or blog carrying the widget or want to carry the widget, click here to get the new code.
Remember this one? Pride parade verdict upheld: From SignOnSanDiego.com- “An appellate court panel of three justices has unanimously upheld last year’s jury verdict awarding damages to four San Diego firefighters who sued the city because they had been required to participate in the 2007 gay pride parade in Hillcrest.”
A double whammy to start the DC fire chief’s weekend: As you can imagine there is a lot of discussion about the federal discrimination lawsuit filed Friday against DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Dennis Rubin and two of his assistant fire chiefs. That story is here. Earlier on Friday Chief Rubin’s staff contacted WTOP Radio to say the chief had it wrong about enforced leave for the firefighter/nude chef at Engine 11. Here are the details.
Burned Modesto firefighter back on the job today: This morning Engineer James Adams returns to the Modesto Fire Department on light-duty as a battalion chief’s aide ten months after being critically burned over almost half his body. Adams and Jason Clevenger fell through the roof of a burning home on New Years Day. Here’s the update.
Fire in New Philadelphia, PA: “An early morning fire destroyed four homes and a former restaurant Thursday and damaged at least 19 other homes.” – from RepublicanHerald.com.
Just when I thought I was out, they pull meback in: After a couple days of coverage and posting the fireground audio my hope was to give the Obion County, Tennessee story a rest today. But that changed with the lengthy comment sent overnight from Union City Chief Kelly Edmison. Chief Edmison’s department is also one providing subscription fire service to residents in Obion County. Please take the time to read his comments here.
You will find some not as well thought out remarks from Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz. When you don’t have a good argument you usually do two things: attack your opponent and blame the news media. Rhett does both. Check it out for yourself. He’s turning into a master of distortion.
A Presidential MCI – President Obama dispatches EMS: PGFD PIO Mark Brady tells us what happened when President Barack Obama starts dispatching EMS from the podium during his speech at Bowie State University yesterday. Exhaustion and dehydration seemed to be the major symptoms. Click here for pictures and details from Brady’s blog.
Another new fire service expert tells us four firefighters on a rig aren’t needed: A columnist for the Orlando Sentinel apparently has all the answers on fire department staffing. Lauren Ritchie seems to think even two firefighters is adequate staffing for a fire truck as she is encouraging of Leesburg, Florida’s decision to take another vote after approving money that would save the jobs of two firefighters-
For example, precisely how does service to a citizen drop when two rather than three firefighters go to a call? If there is a full-blown fire, clearly the more firefighters the better. More hoses can be pulled more quickly and so forth.
However, 85 percent of the 8,000 calls to which Leesburg firefighters respond are medical emergencies. And the number of major fires? 1 percent? Less?
So just how many columnists does a paper need anyway? If there is a full blown news emergency, can’t we get opinions from columnists at other papers further away? You be the judge. Click here.
A clean start: In Boston, after years of controversy, a random drug testing program for firefighters has finally started. The first 50 tested apparently have nothing to worry about. Here’s the story.
Firefighter dies after collapsing at brush fire: In California, Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District Firefighter James Saunders died in the hospital yesterday morning after suffering an apparent heart attack during a grass fire on Saturday. Read more about Firefighter Saunders here and at Firefighter Close Calls.
Paramedic found murdered in her home: A tragic story from Ontario, Canada about an hour southwest of Toronto. According to GuelphMercury.com, Adrienne Roberts, a Guelph-Wellington EMS paramedic, “was found murdered in her Arthur home Wednesday evening. She was reportedly the victim of a violent domestic dispute.”
Firefighter’s gear stolen during graduation ceremony: In Utah, Colby Robison had just graduated from the West Valley Fire Academy and was celebrating in a restaurant. When he got back to his car it had been broken into and his PPE and badge had been stolen. Here’s more.
Like father, like son: Anyone who has met Vinnie Brennan Jr. likely won’t forget him. The still hard working retired FDNY firefighter can only be described as a character (in the absolute best sense of the word). I’ve known him through my work at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, an organization Vinnie has worked with since the death of his firefighter brother Peter on September 11, 2001. Susan Nicol at Firehouse.com tells us the story of Vinnie’s son, Vinnie Brennan III, also an FDNY firefighter, who tackled a cell phone thief at about the same spot his father came to the aid of a police officer who was being attacked by drug dealers 30-years earlier. Check out the story.
Before going into last night’s Firefighter Netcast I had only one problem with my good friend The Fire Critic’s views on the fire department in South Fulton, Tennessee letting a family’s home burn to the ground because a $75 fee wasn’t paid. Now I have two problems.
In his opening monologue describing the events, Rhett Fleitz did what I have seen and heard many a fire chief do when the bad news showed up on radio, TV and the newspapers. Rhett almost reflexively blamed the news media for sensationalizing this story. Rhett you are definitely chief material with natural reactions like that. There is a future for you buddy.
But let me give you a reality check with this ancient lesson from the news business. Dog biting man is not news. Man biting dog is. I know Rhett that you are probably still trying to figure out why I brought this old saying into the conversation last night, so let me put it another way. Firefighters putting out a house fire often isn’t news. Firefighters sitting and watching a house burn is (if you still don’t get it, ask Willie to explain it to you).
There are a lot of citizen commentaries like this on YouTube. It gives you an indication of the depth of the emotion with this story and the reputation problem the fire service faces. Click here for more.
I can be as a big a critic of my former profession as anyone, but this is in no way, shape or form a problem of the news media hyping a story. This story doesn’t need hyping. Rhett’s objection was the headline “Firefighters watch as home burns”. That isn’t hype. That’s a fact and a very accurate headline.
In fact, Rhett bringing this up really does my job and makes my argument about this case. It’s simple. This wouldn’t have been a story making news around the world if the fire department did what fire departments are supposed to do and put out the fire. Yes, there is a lot more to this issue and it is much more complicated than that. But that’s the bottom line.
During our debate Rhett said he still stands by his other comment that caused me to wonder if he really has a clue about what he is saying as he tries to juggle the content of multiple blogs (the other day the man I used to call ”the hardest working man in the fire service blog business” was so desperate for content he put naked boobs on FireCritic.com). Rhett says he still believes, “The only thing that failed here was the homeowner not paying the fee. Everything else operated as it should.”
I will explain it again to all of my friends who agree with Rhett. And looking at the comments, there are quite a few of you. This is a case where you can’t just say the rules are the rules, and make sure each one is followed to the letter. It draws you to the wrong conclusion.
Yes, you can point to the requirements and say that the homeowner blew it and give the example that GEICO won’t let you make a claim on car insurance that you buy after you total your car. You and Rhett are technically correct on each one of these points. But you are morally wrong (not that I am normally an arbiter of morals) and it is the wrong answer for the fire service.
Your correct assessment of the individual facts doesn’t mean your answer to this problem is correct. In this case it’s just the opposite. You’re failing to see the big picture (now who is sounding like a fire chief?).
It is the job of the fire service to be there when someone else is having the worst day of their lives, no matter how wrong they are for getting themselves in that situation. In this case the fire service blew it big time and it is once again costing a great amount of reputation equity.
Let me give you an insurance analogy that better relates to this case. You have no health insurance. You take your child to the emergency room with a badly fractured leg. Because of the lack of insurance does the doctor refuse to treat your kid or tell you to come back when the leg is infected and his life is in danger? You know the answer to that and that should have been the answer in South Fulton.
But the Fire Department should never have put those firefighters in that position. They were set up to fail. Yes, I know there is a great responsibility by Obion County, its citizens and the political leaders of South Fulton in this matter. That is not lost on me. But the fire department shouldn’t allow everyone else to put them in a position that goes against what being a firefighter is all about.
If this is truly a policy dictated by others and not the fire department, than this is one one of those rare situations where the fire chief, backed by his firefighters, must collectively hold their breath until they turn blue. They need to take a stand.
And I am hoping the leadership in fire departments all over the country where this scenario can and does happen will look at this black eye to the fire service and realize they don’t want their department to become the next postor child for this issue.
Rhett tells me not all of the municipal departments providing fire protection service for Obion County operate this way. According to Rhett some don’t charge at all and others have a policy similar to the one I’ve shown from the Karns VFD, a Tennessee department about five hours to the east of South Fulton.
In case you missed it, Karns is implementing subscription fire protection. But they are smart enough not to put themselves in this untenable position of having to refuse to put out a fire. They will do what firefighters are supposed to do, but after it’s the smoke clears the homeowner will get a hefty bill for the fire department’s services. Not ideal, but it saves firefighters from being the man who bit the dog.
We have almost 60 comments since yesterday on the South Fulton, Tennessee story where the fire department would not put out the house fire because the homeowner hadn’t paid his subscription. The Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz, is among those who wrote in because I dared to criticize his statement that ”Everything else operated as it should” except for the homeowner not paying his bill.
Tonight at 9:00 EDT I will debate this issue with Rhett on his Firefighter Netcast Internet radio show. I still predict that before it is over Rhett will admit that was a poor choice of words and he was wrong. But we shall see. I am guessing the only way Rhett will let you hear the debate is if you pay a subscription fee up front.
To kind of summarize where we are on this debate, here is a recent comment from STATter911.com reader known as Joseph Schmoe who defends the South Fulton FD. Below that is my response. Join us tonight at 9:
I have to disagree with you on this one Mr. Statter. The citizens of the city are under no obligation to subsidize fire protection for a county that does not care enough to provide fire protection for it’s citizens.
Many solutions are available for the county to provide protection to unincorporated areas of the county. Formation of their own fire department, contracting with the city to provide protection, formation of a community services district to allow collection of funds to pay for city responses are just a few.
Instead, the county chose to do nothing and leave it up to the residents to subscribe. Like many people, this “victim” elected not to participate, thinking he would never have a fire. He miscalculated and lost everything. Now, the city officials, including the fire chief, are being vilified in the media for protecting the interests of the people that they represent. Odd.
Had the fire department extinguished the fire, others in the community would likely not subscribe, knowing that any fire would be extinguished anyway. As it is, I am sure that the subscription rate will rise after this event.
This incident is similar to when unincorporated communities votes against annexation time after time, then whine when the neighboring city denies services.
The blame on this lies solely with the property owner, he rolled the dice and lost. As you can tell, I am not buying that he “forgot”.
If public officials must be blamed, blame the county for not making the protection of it’s citizens a priority.
Thanks Mr. Statter for your fine work. Despite my disagreement with you on this issue, I remain a most loyal reader and fan.
I’m always glad to have someone disagree with me so nicely (as if I set a good example with Rhett).
A number of people are making the points you make. And there is little argument that technically you are correct on probably all counts. But in this case following all of the rules gives you the wrong answer. Not only is it the answer that is morally wrong and goes against what firefighters are all about, it is the answer that gives the fire service a black eye.
Let me be clear, I am not defending the homeowner. And you are also right that South Fulton is probably under no obligation to protect the county (except by the agreement that set up this scenario). In fact, my point is they should not put themselves in this position. No fire department should. It is not what firefighters do.
As Jeff Bressler writes in the Fire PIO there is plenty of blame to go around. But it is the fire department that looks bad.
What I am saying to the fire department (and any others who have these set-ups) is don’t put yourself in this no-win situation in the future. You would look much better sending the man a bill for a couple of thousand dollars after you put out the fire (the Karns VFD model) than sitting there looking like you are at a football rally bonfire.
Thanks Joe for being such a loyal reader and sticking with me even when you think I am wrong.