A compilation of the best (or possibly worst) in Russian firefighter humor. Before anyone starts complaining, yes, I know it’s stupid, inane, childish and I shouldn’t be encouraging this kind of behavior. Now that we got that out of the way, enjoy!
Actually, for me, the most amazing thing in this video is the cameo at :44 by the world famous критик огня, or as we know him, Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz. I had to zoom in on the image to verify it was Rhett. Boy, he gets around. He must have had a speaking engagement, teaching Russian firefighters about social media.
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.
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.
Nothing would make THE Fire Critic, Rhett Fleitz, more unhappy than having to announce STATter911.com as the reader’s choice for Fire Blog of the Year. In the previous 20 years of this contest (remember, Rhett invented the fire service Internet, something we greatly admire him for) I have thrown my support behind other worthy blogs and asked you not to vote for this rag. But this year it’s different. It’s personal.
One reason, you may recall, is that Rhett insulted our readers a while back by twice referring to those who write comments to the site as ”trolls”. These “trolls” have supplied almost 40,000 comments in our close to five years of existence. I am extremely grateful for their support. Rhett has since softened his stance a bit, but I know it may be a tough one for some of you to just forgive and forget. So, ”trolls” unite and show Rhett you are a force to be reckoned with.
The second reason is that Rhett wanted me not to be part of this contest so badly that he made up a rule a few weeks back. Rhett said by phone that because I am not a firefighter, STATter911.com is not really a fire blog. I am assuming his partners in the contest at FireRescue1.com set him straight on that point.
That said, rather than tell you what to think or how to vote, just click here and vote your conscience (there really are some other good choices). But it sure would be funny if he had to post STATter911.com as the winner.
(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.
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.
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.
I am sure most of you have been following the latest incident of a Tennessee fire department letting a home burn because the homeowner didn’t pay the annual subscription fee. In this case in South Fulton an unpaid $75 bill resulted in the fire department watching a house burn to the ground. There has been a lot of reaction to this story, including the following: News coverage across the country (just heard the story again on CBS Radio); A live shot with the homeowner on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown on MSNBC with references to life under the Tea Party (see below); Glenn Beck supports the FD position; The son of the homeowner decking the fire chief (see story above); A harsh statement from IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger; The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz taking the side of the fire department saying the rules are the rules (please check my critique of The Fire Critic further down).
As a volunteer firefighter in Maryland in the 70s I recall being quite outraged reading the stories, usually from the South, of firefighters watching homes burn because someone wasn’t on the department’s subscription or membership list. I don’t think my outrage is any less more than 35-years-later.
The chiefs who run these subscription based entities, including Union City Fire Chief Kelly Edmison whose department is in Obion County, Tennessee with South Fulton, make the case that they are between a rock and a hard place. Here is what Chief Edmison said to WPSD-TV:
“If somebody is trapped in the house we’re going to go because life safety is number one but we can’t give the service away,” Edmison said. “It’s not South Fulton’s problem. It’s not Union City’s problem. It’s the county’s problem. There is no county fire department.”
“If we just waited to charge when we went out there, you’d be working on a per-call basis,” he said. “With no more calls than there are, the money wouldn’t be there in a sufficient source to buy the equipment you need.”
He and other fire chiefs in Obion County who charge subscription fees for county residents know they’re in a tough spot.
“It’s like car insurance,” Edmison said. “I wish I could wait until I have an accident until I pay my premium on my car insurance, but it doesn’t work that way. So why should the fire service be looked at anything different?”
This situation is a black eye for the fire service. The fault lies with the homeowners for not paying the $75 fee. However, the public will not view it as such. The media is also jumping on the band wagon…saying that the homeowner is the victim. The only thing that failed here was the homeowner not paying the fee. Everything else operated as it should.
So many people are pointing the finger towards the fire department. Once again, they fail to look at policies. This is bigger than the fire department. If someone wants to change the policies they need to look to the South Fulton City Government.
I don’t know if it’s just a poor choice of words or my good friend Rhett has finally snapped after taking years of abuse about being short. Rhett has me really worried about him when he writes, ”Everything else operated as it should”. Huh?
Now back to our story. No, Rhett. Everything did not operate as it should. Firefighters put out fires and help people. They should not be put in the position where they can’t do that. And maybe it’s not the South Fulton Government that is necessarily the problem. Maybe Obion County should provide for its people by subsidizing the volunteer fire departments.
If that can’t be done, maybe a better answer to this problem comes from a Tennessee fire company with a similar issue. In the story below, after running into fundraising issues, the Karns VFD, five hours or so to the east of South Fulton, is going to a subscription type department. But it sounds like they are not refusing to respond to anyone’s emergency. They will bill those who aren’t members a pretty substantial fee for putting out a fire.
Far from perfect and still objectionable. But at least this way it won’t bring about video on national television of firefighters looking like they are at a marshmellow roast while someone loses all of their belongings. Let the bill collectors, accountants and courts do what they are supposed to do while firefighters do their jobs. (And Rhett, go do your job, admit you were wrong and apologize to your co-worker Willie for trying to steal his thunder on his opening week.)
Warehouse fire in British Columbia: Fire yesterday at a kitchen cabinet business in Surrey.
Daughter wants apology over man mistakenly declared dead in Prince George’s County: When PGFD paramedics misidentified flesh eating bacteria and related signs as decomposition following death (despite a Glenarden, Maryland man still being alive), the department handled the bad news in text book fashion. Rather than wait for those pesky reporters to uncover the mistake, Chief Spokesman Mark Brady was proactive. Brady sent out a press release before there was a leak and told the story himself. The initial coverage had little shelf life and disappeared from the news rather quickly. A good lesson and reminder for all of us about a story that had the potential to linger for days.
But here’s another lesson. Candor in your efforts to get the bad news out and over with doesn’t necessarily mean you can completely control the message. Now, almost four months later the story has surfaced again because the daughter of the man (who really died the next day) says she wants an apology from the medics who made the error. Click here to watch the latest story and here to read it.
Where telling your own story may not be the best choice: London Fire Brigade Chief Ron Dobson is being criticized for using a blog post to threaten the termination of 6,000 firefighters if the work force doesn’t agree to controversial changes in their contract. According to MarketWire.com, “The Fire Brigades Union regional official Paul Embery said, ‘We’ve heard stories of companies sacking employees by text, but this must be the first time an employer has threatened to sack people by personal blog.’” Read more.
Dave wants to see them fry over radio turkey fryer stunt. Image from WTSP.
We have been wondering what happened with the radio DJ turkey fryer stunt investigation. Now we know: Do you recall our coverage of one of the most idiotic radio stunts since WKRP’s Arthur Carlson determined turkeys don’t fly? (Click here and here.) The Tampa Fire Department and Florida State Fire Marshal believe using the fryer inside a van and in turn setting the van on fire was a criminal act. You aren’t going to get an argument from me. Both agencies want to see felony charges for arson and injuring a firefighter. The Tampa Fire Department is now accusing Hillsborough State’s Attorney Mark Ober’s Office with dragging its feet in filing the charges. According to news reports, Ober’s people have had the fire marshal’s report for six months. A spokesman says these things take time, something the fire department isn’t buying. I am not a legal scholar, but maybe you just charge the radio team with being criminally stupid and arrogant? And if the State’s Attorney doesn’t see the importance of sending a message that you don’t tolerate setting things on fire just to attract a radio or Internet audience, maybe he’s the one who is stupid and arrogant. Read and watch the update.
Only you can prevent Dave: Patting myself on the back for my insensitive headline on a fire video from Oregon. Check it out for yourself.
All firefighters now home after explosion: The last of four firefighters injured in the explosion of a house in Sacramento a week ago is out of the hospital. Click here for the latest.
Letting the public decide staffing levels: Firefighters in Palo Alto, California are the latest to turn to the citizens in helping to prevent staffing cuts. Here’s their story.
Don’t forget to come by and see me in Baltimore next week: For the third year in a row, Bill “Firegeezer” Schumm and Mike “FossilMedic” Ward have invited me to share their booth at Firehouse Expo. This year we are in Booth 738. Bill was thinking ahead when he ordered a larger booth. Apparently he has turned the place into a homeless shelter for fire service bloggers. I understand THE Fire Critic (not just any Fire Critic) Rhett Fleitz and Fire Daily’s John Mitchell will be originating their award winning Firefighter Netcast from the booth (just don’t block the view of the STATter911.com sign). By the time we are done I think the name will be changed to Firefighter Nutcast.
I give my friend Rhett Fleitz a lot of grief. Basically because he is my friend and because he is such an easy target. Despite all of his faults, and he has many, Rhett is probably the hardest working man in the fire service blog business. He’s been doing it longer than most and has multiple blogs going like The Fire Critic and VAFireNews.com along with his job as a lieutenant in the Roanoke Fire Department. Rhett also partners with John Mitchell of Fire Daily (clearly the brains of the operation) to do Firefighter Netcast (tonight’s guest The Fire PIO Jeff Bressler).
Now to this very serious video. A couple is trapped in a burning third floor apartment. They climb out and both hang for quite a while, side-by-side, from a window that appears to face a courtyard. It is amazing they were able to hold on for so long. Once the ladder is raised the man can’t quite wait for the firefighter to get to him. The man and the firefighter take a hard fall as the man lets go of the sill.
Then it’s the woman’s turn and a similar thing happens. Make sure you watch this one all the way to the end.
Ammunition cooks: Early raw video shot by a neighbor of a fire Monday morning in Halstead, Kansas. We have a theme going with the videos this morning, Check below for the gun shop fire in Texas.
Engine that failed to pump in Seattle was a reserve piece: The Seattle Times cites sources as saying Saturday’s fire that left four children and an adult dead apparently started in a mattress. The Seattle Fire Department now confirms the engine that failed to pump was a reserve piece. Here is an excerpt from the paper’s story:
The Fire Department, in a written statement, clarified that the first engine to arrive at the blaze — which suffered a mechanical failure and was unable to pump water — was a 1996 reserve engine assigned to Station 18 because the normal engine, a 2008 model, was in the shop for routine maintenance.
Fire officials previously said the 2008-model engine, stationed on Northwest Market Street, had been successfully tested that morning before the fire was reported at 10:04 a.m. Now it is unclear whether those tests were performed on the reserve truck, Engine 81 — listed in dispatch records that day as Engine 18 — or on the station’s regular Engine 18.
The department also confirmed that the engine at Station 9, closest to the apartment fire, was on a nonemergency call to a Wallingford retirement home when the blaze erupted.
The paper reports the number of non-emergency calls from this retirement facility has been an issue. There have been 486 responses to the facility since 2005.
I have always said some of the smartest and bravest firefighters you will find anywhere are in Roanoke, Virginia. This picture by The Fire Critic Rhett Fleitz proves my point. Smart for regularly reading STATter911.com. Brave for doing so in the fire station. Click the image for Rhett's description of what brought about this picture. BTW we are always interested in pictures showing where and how you use STATter911.com. Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Union blasts Bourne oath policy: As we mentioned the other day the policy that firefighters must be under oath when political leaders conduct investigations is the latest controversy for the Bourne Fire Department. It has brought a scathing letter from the president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts. Read it.
Clark County commission chairman says he won’t be bullied by fire union ad: The latest from Nevada brings the following quote from Rory Reid, chairman of the Clark County Commission- “The firefighters want the public to think this is about safety. In fact, the only thing at risk is the firefighters’ paycheck and that’s what this is all about.” The union says it is about safety when you cut the county’s heavy rescue and hazmat capability. Read the story.
Ohio captain linked to hidden camera in bathroom: Police have arrested Mayfield Heights Fire Department Captain Daniel Serge after a small digital camera was discovered in a handicapped bathroom at a YMCA. Here’s the story.
Firefighters apparently help fuel Charlie Sheen gossip:” ‘I think it’s Charlie Sheen’s car,’ a firefighter who first arrived at the scene initially told RadarOnline.com.” Now that’s journalism for you. Trying to nail down the all important story of the troubled actor’s abandoned car found running in a ditch on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles, the rag got an “I think” from a firefighter. Sounds good enough for me. Read it if you care.
WARNING! WARNING! WARNING! The videos above and below contains language that some might find offensive. They had neen removed for a while fro YouTube and have now been reposted.
It is not Rhett Fleitz's blog that I am referring to in my headline. The fire critics in this case are a young man and woman who stumbled upon a fire in Sylvan Lake in Edmonton yesterday afternoon. You will find that some of the expletives I warned about are directed at the firefighters. The clip below was shot by the same people just a few minutes earlier.
According to news accounts the fire ended up taking out four homes and damaged seven others. There were no serious injuries.
Above is a short clip shot by some different citizens.
Early this morning in Rochester: Lots of fire on Wadsworth Street in this Guy Zampatori video. Pictures and fireground audio can be found at Monroe County Fire Wire.
The regeneration blues coming to a firehouse near you: Read how one fire chief finds the time-outs for regeneration on his department’s newer diesel engines quite maddening and potentially dangerous. A guest column from Boca Raton Fire Rescue’s Tom Wood. Click here.
UPDATED Houston’s Draycott scheduled to return to is back at work today: “I want to be treated like everybody else. I want to be able to go to work and not be harassed, not be retaliated against.” That’s what Firefighter Jane Draycott told the Houston Chronicle’s Terri Langford yesterday, a day before her scheduled return to HFD’s Station 54 at Bush Intercontinental Airport. Draycott attempted a return in January and found herself in the middle of a “team building” exercise with her fellow firefighters. That four-hour session resulted in a lot of transfers and the resignation of the fire chief. It has been nine-months since Draycott made the news after racist and sexual graffiti were found on Draycott’s belongings in the women’s bunk room at the firehouse. Watch as Firefighter Draycott arrives at Station 54 this morning.
Car smashes into ladder truck … inside the firehouse: Click here to read how police say the driver of a car that crashed through the bay door of a firehouse in Wisconsin may not be at fault.
Driver jailed after crashing into fire truck: Police say two motorcyclists racing near Missoula, Montana led one of them into the back of a fire truck injuring a firefighter. Here’s the story.
A busy weekend in Flint: A dozen fires, including one in a vacant warehouse Saturday that spread to another building. Officials believe 10 of them were intentionally set. So far in April there have been 107 fires compared to 37 last year. This latest arson spree began the day before layoffs were initiated at the end of March. Read and watch the story.
Erosion of political influence: That’s the title of FossilMedic Mike Ward’s latest entry on Firegeezer. Mike is wondering if these budget battles, where firefighter overtime and pensions are targeted, are taking a toll on firefighters who might otherwise enjoy the backing of the public and the politicians. Check it out.
If you would like to tell Mike Ward you agree with him or that he is full of it: You can do so in person this week at FDIC during the big Meetup at Indy on Friday at the Rock Bottom Brewery. Lots of bloggers from FireEMSBlogs.com and elsewhere will be on hand, along with their many groupies. You can even get a free drink ticket for the event by stopping by these booths-
FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation.com and FireEMSBlogs.com: Booth #3755
I had hoped to be there, but recent knee surgery is keeping me very close to home. My doctor didn’t think I could handle the trauma of the procedure and at the same time deal with the sharp barbs from Rhett Fleitz, The Fire Critic. But you can listen to the latest Indy news from Rhett and his partner John Mitchell (Fire Daily) on their live Firefighter Netcast (or is it Nutcast with that crew?) out of Booth 3755 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Read more.
Two from Washington State – TV crew stumbles onto house fire & a rekindle: A reporter and photographer from KOMO-TV in Seattle spotted the smoke and beat the firefighters from Marysville, Washington to the scene of this house fire on Saturday. Read more in this account from the reporter. Click here for an extended version of the video above showing much more of the firefighting operations. About 25 miles to the south on I-5, there was a house fire around 7:30 Monday night in Lynwood that left a man critically burned. Firefighters saved the man’s reptiles but reported the house was full of debris. Some of that debris wasn’t completely extinguished and about 2:00 Tuesday morning the fire took off again. Watch the story.
Big Love meets Backdraft: That’s one way to describe the story unfolding in twin polygamous communities along the Arizona – Utah border. Investigators say a central figure in their fraud and misuse of funds probe is the fire chief for the two towns. His home and four fire stations were among the places raided yesterday. Here’s what we put together on the story.
A former Martin County (FL) firefighter and his twin brother are accused of stealing drugs from an ambulance parked at a hospital. Security cameras caught the theft. Click the image to read the story and watch the video.
Primary & secondary searches fail to turn up elderly woman, eventually found in the bathtub: Firefighters in Northwoods, Missouri didn’t find the body of Gail Banks until her godson went looking for her hours after the fire at her home was extinguished. Read and watch this story.
County commissioner who criticized firefighter pay gets more security: In Clark County, Nevada Steve Sisolak has been leading the charge over firefighter overtime and compensation. Sisolak says the number of harassing phone calls is increasing. Read more.
Fire chief says no: Corning, New York Chief Stephen Monroe is retiring after 10-years as chief because some of the things he has been asked to do by the city manager conflict with his style of principle-based leadership. The chief is not going into detail publicly but the thought is much of it has to do with budget cutting. Firegeezer has this interesting story.
Timing is everything: A success story in the case of a one-year-old child who stopped breathing yesterday in Prince George’s County, Maryland. A Kentland VFD engine crew, just back from a three-hour brush fire, was sent on the call. Before they got very far, the call came to them as a car blocked the engine’s path. Inside was the child. Firefighter/EMT Fred Caramiello was able to quickly dislodge an obstruction and get the choking infant breathing again. Click here to read the press release from PGFD Chief Spokesman Mark Brady.
The brotherhood: My blogging brother Rhett Fleitz, who I seem to be willing to throw under the bus at a moment’s notice, takes a look at what the term brotherhood means for firefighters. Check it out at The Fire Critic.
Leadership- A Question of Character: As you would expect, Ben May in his Firehouse.com column goes a lot deeper than shallow Dave did in his recent posting about leadership and honesty. Ben looks at Osceola County Fire Rescue where, besides honesty, they talk about things like patience, kindness, humility, respectfulness, selflessness, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Here’s Ben’s column and an interesting view of servant leadership.
They want your vote: At FireCritic.com they don’t believe in one man, one vote. You can have as many as three votes in one day from your computer. They are looking for the best fire/EMS blog for 2009 and Rhett has lost all credibility by including this rag as one of the 10 finalists. Click here to vote. By the way it looks like Medic 999 is leaving Schumm and Statter in the dust. And who says EMS is just the ugly stepchild of the fire service?
Our new video player: The video player near the top right of the blog was recently added. It holds all of the most recent WUSA9.com fire and EMS videos. You will find most of the local fire stories I do and those from other reporters at 9NEWS NOW in Washington, DC. It also will have some of the fireground audio and 911 calls that I post. Emily Cyr and Jillian Coyle are always on the lookout for other interesting videos from our Gannett websites around the country and other sources. Check it out. There are some interesting ones in there.
Further down we still have the player from our YouTube site. It has some other fire and EMS content (and a few repeats).
Unusual one in DC: Firefighters handling a fire under the Pennsylvania Avenue bridge on Rock Creek Parkway found a body nearby. Click here.
Add crossing guard to your all-hazards fire department list: That is what may happen very soon in Logansport, Indiana. The mayor’s budget cutting plan gets rid of 14 crossing guards, but do not fear, Mayor Mike Fincher has a plan. On-duty firefighters will join police in handling those duties. Click here for the article from firefightingnews.com.
Fireground audio roundup and some pictures: Click here for firesceneaudio.com audio from a two-alarm house fire on Middleton Court in Fairfax County yesterday.
Don’t forget we have both the fire department and sheriff’s department audio from the dumpster explosion that killed Firefighter Steven Koeser in Wisconsin. Click here.
One that will not put you in a good mood: Police in Palm Bay, Florida say a toddler suffered serious burns after his drunk father wrestled with the boy in front of a fire pit. We have the dad’s 911 call looking for what hospital his son was taken to. The call taker had a little advice for the man. Take a listen.
Firehouse fire helps move up moving schedule: Click here for the details from Rensselaer, New York where a kitchen fire in the old fire station is lighting a fire under moving plans.
Baltimore’s mayor is out: Not sure yet what impact it will have on the fire department but Mayor Sheila Dixon leaves office February 4 as part of a plea agreement. Here’s more from the Baltimore Sun.
Also, the Baltimore Messenger is making noise about rotating closures impacting Engine 44 and Truck 25 in Roland Park where the fire chief and a fire commissioner are scheduled to meet with residents tonight. This is the same community that raised more than $40,000 to help renovate the local firehouse.
One firefighter in Modesto released from the hospital: Click here for the update on the two firefighters burned in a New Year’s Night fire after falling through the roof of the burning home.
Fire chief takes on arrest of firefighters for drugs and alcohol: In Pittsburgh Chief Darryl Jones is addressing recent arrests of firefighters. Read the details.
Reputation management: A federal lawsuit is underway over an incident in Dunmore, Pennsylvania where a firefighter is claiming defamation after his suspension for not completing EMT was made public in 2005. Read more.
We have heard of dogs and cats alerting people to a fire, but how about a snake?: This sounds like a fable about someone nursing an ill snake back to health in China and the snake returning the favor. I am not sure I am buying it, but you be the judge.