Are We Off Limits?

Nobody on this planet can ever accuse me of not having a heart and soul steeped in the tradition of the fire service.  And an LODD is no laughing matter.  But when the satire site The Onion lampoons a fictional firefighter who dies in the line of duty because he sucks at his job, is it really worth the collective ire that I'm sure will arise from it?

It's satire, and while you or I may find it distateful, it's not like the site says that firefighters themselves are idiots.  If you choose to read the post, the story is that this fictional firefighter survived in spite of his complete incompetence, failing to wear turnout gear, etc., but the reality is, it is satire.  The Onion has tackled virtually every celebrity and institution on record, including every known religion.  So what makes the fire service off limits?

What isn't satire is a real LODD.  And what isn't a laughing matter is the real issues behind a number of the causes of these incidents, which seem to me like an annual recitation of what we tell firefighters not to do, yet, they do anyway. What should be the routine fire becomes a nightmare because we neglect to use a means of accounting for our personnel.  Or we fail to recognize the signs of imminent collapse.  We lose firefighters because they fail to wear seatbelts, which after the number of appeals to correct, should long be a non-issue anymore, yet it still happens.

So while the fictional "Stuart D'Abarno" rushed into buildings without his PPE, nearly died during training drills, burned his hands on hot door knobs, backed into things with the apparatus, and set grease fires in the station kitchen, we have real-life people who do these things with and without consequence.  And that is incompetence defined. And you know, if they die in the line of duty, instead of saying, "Wow, what a screw-up", we celebrate them as heroes.

We should instead focus our outrage on the real people who make the brotherhood look bad by their lack of professionalism on a regular basis.  We should actually be glad that The Onion didn't decide to take on some even more embarrassing moments for the fire serivce, like firefighter arsonists, or fire chiefs taking from the till, or firefighters getting caught running a prostitute ring out of a station. I mean, really, isn't truth stranger than fiction? 

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Michael "Mick" Mayers

Deputy Fire Chief - Operations Division for Hilton Head Island (SC) Fire Rescue and an Emergency Response Coordinator with the United States Department of Health and Human Services  National Disaster Medical System Incident Response Coordination Team.
Recent Posts
Colin Fanning
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One of the most important facts we reviewed when deciding on the roto ray purchase was this; With the speeds of traffic on SC 278, by the time people heard the sirens on our fire trucks our light bars (on top of the roof) were out of sight. The roto ray, with its mounted location…
2014-07-25 15:07:00
Mick Mayers
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Thanks, Bryan! I genuinely believe I do and they tend to reward me with professionalism, innovation, and compassion to our citizens daily. That's something I am happy to facilitate.
2014-07-15 04:10:00
Bryan G. Riebe
Questioning Heroism
Chief, appreciated in your response to Geoff that you work for the FFs. Believe if more Chiefs lived that philosophy our fire services would be bastions of honor, ethics, and human potential.
2014-07-15 00:05:00
Christopher Roy
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Geoff, EMS, as its own service, does not have a strong voice and in turn, does not get the respect in the media/public that it does deserve. I do hope that changes. EMS doesn't have a home either, and that doesn't help. There are so many different delivery methods in this country that its probably…
2014-07-14 23:49:00
Mick Mayers
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I'm sorry you feel that way, Geoff. The department I work with has been doing EMS (advanced care AND transport) with cross-trained personnel for over twenty years and doing a pretty good job. Our community expects a certain level of service that we have been able to provide through that model and while not every…
2014-07-14 22:01:00

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Although I am affiliated or employed by certain entities, I in no way speak in this forum or others on behalf of those entities unless I have specifically stated such. Any implication otherwise is doing so contrary to my agreements with those entities. The result is that the observations and opinions by myself or on behalf of Firehouse Zen are not sanctioned by any other entity other than Graffiti Train Sherpa Publications and are protected by the copyright laws of the United States of America.

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