It will all make sense after you watch this. Have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!
A STATter911.com Exclusive: The shocking conclusion to our investigation of The Fire Critic. You won’t believe what we have discovered.23 comments
(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):
It is time to take some of my own advice on how an organization should handle bad news (come see me in St. Charles, Missouri for the full lesson and remember to use STATTER in the promo code for a discount).
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.)
Dave with his spiritual leader. Photo by Mike Legeros at Legeros Fire Blog.
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.
Shocking, you say? That's exactly how I felt.
To determine the truth I took a little side trip during my travels last week to Fire Rescue International. I showed up unannounced in the wonderful city of Roanoke and paid a visit to Engine 3, the firehouse where The Fire Critic claims he works. The results of my secret, undercover investigation can be found in the exclusive video above (though, another fire service blogger nearly spilled the beans last week about our Roanoke visit).
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.
And the wall came tumbling down: Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz is on a roll with videos. He found the one above that turned into a close call for one of those fire people who wear the white helmets. No details about where or when, but it sure is interesting. For Rhett’s other find, see the next story.
Should we run this video?: The truth be told, we are running it anyway. On the surface it is funny. But the video, recently posted on FireCritic.com, gave me pause after I did a little research. Do Dave’s questions and concerns show that the grizzled former journalist has become a wimp now that he’s left TV? Or, are they legitimate? You be the judge. Put yourself in the seat of the news director or fire service blogger and tell me your decision. Click here to read, watch and comment.
Jay Leno’s fire truck: If you’ve never seen the 1941 American LaFrance pumper owned by the Tonight Show”s Jay Leno here’s your chance. Glenn Usdin has a video tour by Leno posted at FireTruckBlog.com. Click here to ride along.
When the news chopper is live overhead someone down below needs to be providing good information: A series of videos from a house fire in Indiana gives us a good lesson for PIOs and fire chiefs. If you think it’s okay to deal with the press when you are good and ready and not before, this may help you to see that’s not a good policy. Check it out.
Dave takes you to new heights: In case you missed it, make sure you take a moment to watch this video of transmission tower workers climbing more than 1700 feet into the sky. While watching it think how you would rescue them if there was trouble. Click here.
Geezer goes off on Gary: Firegeezer Bill Schumm fails to hide his disdain for the continued gutting of the Gary Fire Department and the message to the citizens that all is okay now even though we have gone from 77 to 16 firefighters per shift.
Will Ann Arbor, Michigan move to a paid, on-call fire department?: Ann Arbor is already in negotiations to farm out EMS to the private sector. With a police chief as the public safety services administrator the city of 114,000 had a budget retreat where there was serious talk of reducing it’s 89 career firefighters and using a contingent of paid, on-call firefighters. It is interesting that the fire chief was not at that retreat. At AnnArbor.com there are already 54 comments with some asking why not paid, on-call cops? Read more.
The rest of a very interesting story from IronFiremen.com: We told you last week about Virginia’s Vinton Volunteer Fire Department failing to make it to nearby house fire in a timely fashion. A City of Roanoke fire engine got to the scene first. There’s a lot more to the story and Roanoke insider, Captain Willie Wines has the details.
All it took was a firefighter’s coat and a little charm: An interesting story of a probationary volunteer firefighter accused of taking advantage of business people in four different Indiana counties. There’s still a lot of good will out there toward firefighters but guys like this are screwing that up. Here’s the story.
Transparency is a little cloudy in Carmel, Indiana: It was nice of the Carmel government to let the citizens know they have taken action against five firefighters with ”disciplinary sanctions of varying degrees for conduct unbecoming a Carmel firefighter”. But does it really matter if you refuse to tell the people you serve why they were disciplined? Maybe it would have been better not to say anything at all. Check it out for yourself.
Firefighter talks about saving two people and a liver from downed and burning airplane: An interesting story from the U.K. where a Birmingham Airport firefighter tells how he saved the pilot and co-pilot of a plane that had crashed and burned. And for good measure he grabbed their precious cargo, a human liver that safely made its way to the hospital for what is being called a successful transplant. Read more.
Rude awakening: Neighbors rolled out of bed along West 68th Street in Hialeah, Flordia early Sunday morning to see this. A power facility was burning. Click here to see a Google Maps Street View of the complex. Haven’t found anything written about it, but there are a number of videos on YouTube.
Four-alarms in Mahanoy City, Pennsylvania: This is from Sunday night at on East Pine Street. Click here for still pictures.
Bait and switch by the news media: If you are like me it will drive you up a wall if newspapers, websites or TV news operations use a fire truck from one jurisdiction to illustrate a story in another jurisdiction. Well, the new site, FireTruckBlog.comby Chief Glenn Usdin, is calling out one newspaper for crossing the continent to screw up its story on a Maryland budget issue. Check it out here.
You may have noticed the link that went up recently on the bar above for FireTruckBlog.com and a feed of the blog’s content in the right hand column. We are working with Glenn to help make sure you know about this great source for fire apparatus news. You’ll want to check it out.
For those of you who don’t know Glenn, he has been in the fire apparatus business since 1974 and curently is President of Command Fire Apparatus, a Lancaster, Pennsylvania, based company providing used fire and rescue vehicles to fire departments across the United States, Canada and for export. Glenn is also a veteran firefighter and officer in New York and Pennsylvania. I think you will find FireTruckBlog.com a good complement to what we do here.
Michigan fire spreads thoughout large one-story complex: Firegeezer is all over the fire yesterday afternoon in Southfield, Michigan. When you see it you can’t help wonder how a daytime fire was that advanced with a four-minute response time from the fire department. Click here to watch the video.
“The time for trickery and lies are over. We’re playing with people’s lives”: Those are the words of IAFF Local 428 Union President Eric Jenkins. They are directed at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania Mayor Linda Thompson. The union had its press conference yesterday firing back at the mayor’s plan to change schedules and drop people to save $1.6 millions dollars in OT money. Here’s more.
Making the case against massive layoffs in Cincinnati: Cincinnati.com’s Jane Prendergast has the details as more than 200 firefighters packed the City Council chambers last night trying to prevent the layoff of 144 firefighters. Here’s the story.
Union points out what it believes is a cancer cluster at a Pittsburgh firehouse: Nine cancer deaths of firefighters over 13-years at a South Side firehouse has firefighters sounding the alarm. Read the story.
Questions asked after it takes 10-minutes for fire engine to travel a half-mile: It appears Virginia’s Vinton Fire Department had to wait for a crew before responding to a house fire Monday night. The 10-minute response time made it the second engine to arrive at the fire and has reporters asking questions. Here are the answers from The Roanoke Times.
Cops to run day-time fire calls: A shortage of volunteers in Alma, Michigan has the town recruiting police officers to handle fire calls. First they have to be trained. We assume it is something a bit more than “fire safety training” mentioned in this article.
Radio traffic from airplane crash & fire in Roanoke, Virginia. Pilot dead as plane hits building near airport.1 comment
From the AP:
A Charlottesville pilot died Tuesday after his single-engine plane crashed into a UPS Freight building and burst into flames near Roanoke Regional Airport.
Peter Sheeran, 59, died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital, spokeswoman Allison Buth said. Sheeran was taken there with passenger John Whitmer, who was listed in serious condition, Buth said.
No other injuries were reported.
Sheeran’s plane, which took off at 1 p.m., hit power lines and crashed into a corner of the building, said Jennifer Conley Sexton, a spokeswoman for the Roanoke County Fire Department.
The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. A preliminary report is expected in about 10 business days, NTSB spokeswoman Bridget Serchak said in an e-mail.
The 1985 Piper PA-46 is owned by Aviation Development Group Inc. of Charlottesville, according to FAA records. Government records list Sheeran as president of that company and of Sheeran Architects. The businesses share an address in Charlottesville.