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Firefighters supended six months for taking their gear to WTC

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  • Firefighters supended six months for taking their gear to WTC

    After watching the tragic events unfold with the attack on the WTC and seeing over 6,000. peopled killed including 340 firefighters. 75 police and EMS personel.
    Four members of the Westhampton Beach FD in NY, after waiting over 28 hrs and their Dept.
    doing nothing to assist FDNY just couldn't wait any longer. They watched NYC Mayor Giuliani on TV advising volunteers were to
    report. After reporting to a staging area,they were then directed to ground zero where they assisted FDNY and NYPD along with hundreds volunteers. When they got back to their they were informed by the chief they were suspended. The chief in order to seupend them had to use the fact they had taken their FD issued turnout gear.In NY state any NY state firefighter may volunteer their service to any other fire dept.,and if there service is requird they then become coverd by the same workmens comp. as if they were in their own FD. If they had taken their own work gear
    there would be nothing any could do.
    Do you think they should have been suspend for six months/

  • #2
    No, I don't think they should be suspended for taking their gear.

    I do think they should be suspended for disobeying an order from a chief level officer. If the chief says no, that that's it. What happens if Westhampton Beach gets called to a working job and their own fire department can't respond because their membership is helping in New York City.

    Please don't take this the wrong way - I sat in my department's TV louge with my bag packed just waiting to go, but I knew that without my department's permission I wasn't just going to take my gear and go.

    Eventually my department was requested to send a crews into the city and the Chiefs organized a system so we would still have ample coverage in our own town.

    I understand that everyone wants to do everything they can to help but please think of it from the other side... imagine a scene where a group of firefighters get tired of just cutting a hole in a roof. Rather than doing what they are told to do by the incident commander, they decide they would rather pull a hose and go into a building.

    Whether we agree or disagree with what the chief says, on a scene or in the heat of the moment is not the time to argue or decide that you don't like what he says.


    • #3
      Are you sure you have all your facts straight on this story?

      We had some local boys from my area go into the city and get their pic in the paper standing atop the rubble at WTC in their gear....they are now being investigated for taking their gear into the city without prior approval or permission from the township that funds them and bought that gear. It is a double edged sword. On one hand you can say they should have gotten permission, on the other you can say if they did something to help that they should not be punished. In the end of all of the rescue work The City of New York thanked those that came to help but also admitted that some people should not have been there. That is the bottom line. The State of NJ issued a memo to all fire departments, squads, etc. that we were NOT to go into the city unless dispatched or contacted to do so. We waited, and got no call so we understood that we needed to wait until we were called. Had someone gone without permission I am sure they would be suspended right now. A paid dept. in NJ that I know of is under investigation right now because their shift went into the city against the advisement of their officer and got stuck in traffic on a highway then got toned out for a house fire and there was no one to respond. The Township is considering filing a suit against these fire fighters for taking equipment and gear that did not belong to them. They put other people at risk and so I can see both sides of this.
      Never forget those who went before and sacrified to make us better and stronger as a fire service and a nation. 09-11-01 forever etched in time and our memories. God Speed Boys!


      • #4
        Keep in mind people we are firefighters!!!
        We go to help our bretheren when they need it, and FDNY needed it at that time! We are also taught to think outside the box, these guys thought the box were the rules. Yes it needs to be stated that this is not allowed, but suspending f.f. for 6 months? And for a little thing like taking thier protective gear with them? I also heard of the coverage issue. If 4 f.f.'s leave the city and you start to worry about having ample coverage, you have bigger things to worry about!!! These f.f.'s were wrong not to co-ordinate with their commanding officers, but the punishment just doe'nt fit the crime here. Lets not make a bad situation worse by punishing our own for acting without thinking, even though that is part of our job at times. Thank you to the f.f.'s that went to help, I wish I could have, but next time(hopefully never), let people know what you are doing(like your chief). God bless us all....


        • #5
          As I have said here before... the FDNY is probably the most capable department on Earth for handling such an incident. If you have been keeping up on this forum and the Firehouse.com homepage, you will recall that the FDNY very quickly posted press releases stating that they did NOT need volunteers on the scene and that they would put out the call if and when they did. During the Oklahoma City bomb incident, one of the problems the local fire department faced was how to deal with the numerous "volunteers" who had no specialty to offer. This took away resources that were needed at the scene.

          What these people did was "freelance". While their intentions may have been good, their actions were done without coordination or leadership. My department has people on a "stand-by" list that the State of New York EMA established after the WTC disaster. They have not been called, so they have not gone. If they are called, they will be given a specific function to do when they get there which will serve the needs of our Brothers and Sisters in NYC.
          Richard Nester
          Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

          "People don't care what you know... until they know that you care." - Scott Bolleter


          • #6
            probably an over-reaction, but the chief has his own first due to consider. What additional staffing got left back? There's alot of unanswered questions in the initial post.

            I agonized from the beginning knowing there were lots of FF's buried in NY. But my first reaction (after ensuring my kids were picked up) was to head to my station. We had a plane into the pentagon, and reports of other hijackings. Knowing that more could happen at any time, and the companies inside the DC beltway would be the first to go mutual aid to DC (and many did), I think I did right. And I think Westhampton could have gotten hit as easily as DC, from the info known at the time.

            Regardless of the major-scale freelancing that I don't agree with, I think the event and the need to be unified now should temper the punishment.


            • #7
              Four members of the Westhampton Beach FD in NY, after waiting over 28 hrs and their Dept.
              doing nothing to assist FDNY just couldn't wait any longer.

              Oh, too bad. Grow up.

              Thumbs up to the Chief.

              Perhaps the strongest strength in the fire service is Discipline. We don't freelance. We don't self-dispatch. If the largest block in a nearby town is on fire, do you just grab your gear and show up...or do you wait for your dispatcher to get the phone call "Hi, this XYZ dispatch and we're requesting mutual aid from your department." Or in a case like this, "Hi, this is New York State Office of Emergency Management and we're requesting a West Hampton Beach engine respond too..." 28 hours into the incident was well after Emergency Management would've taken over coordinating fire resources.

              If you were a firefighter in Downtown Manhattan that day...yep, probably could've helped in the immediate aftermath, and situations like that is what the NY law you mentioned was written for. If you were a firefighter in sight of the towers, probably make sense to go to your station and be ready if called. Heck, I don't even have a problem with the retired FDNY firefighters who returned to their old stations to pickup gear and go help. I don't fault the civilian volunteers who lined up to help.

              But guess what? Members of a fire department are not civilian volunteers. We need to maintain discipline and be ready to respond if called upon in an official and organized manner. There was no, zero need for firefighters from 80 miles away 28 hours into the incident to respond unless called for.
              IACOJ Canine Officer


              • #8
                Wow, never thought I would say this publicly, but I agree with Dal.

                How come if you do what you want and don't listen to the officer on the scene its "freelancing." But in this case, hundreds of firefighters just showed up, started doing things, etc.

                Many were lucky they weren't locked up. Fact is, this is a crime scene. I would hate to think that any of the "volunteers" took home a souvenier, because that is a criminal act.

                Also, what would have happened if the firefighter was injured or killed while there. No one could prove they were there unless the body was found. Also, the town may deny benefits ("We specifically forbid them to go.")

                There's more to think about than just "helping our brothers."

                By 2 p.m. on the 11th, NY was telling NJ, Conn. & NY state that "No more help is needed or requested, do not send anyone else." NYC has since called only what they need.
                The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!


                • #9
                  I have to say the Chief is right. This was not a freak accident that occurred. The nation went immediately on high alert. Standing by to protect YOUR first in is where you belong. If you ain't called, you don't go. Violating a direct order can result in termination in a career dept. I think this sounds like a case of a bunch of J-V's trying to get some glory Makes great conversation later, "Yeah, I was there at the WTC. Yack, yack yack." . (Let me be perfectly clear here. I support the volunteer system and those who truly do it because their community needs them. However there are always a few who do it so they can have something to brag about, and those are usually the guys who do the least, complain the most, and can always be found near the news cameras.)
                  A good fireman, which is what I hope to be remembered as, follows orders, keeps his mouth shut, stays inside the box until told otherwise and waits until he's promoted to start making command decisions. If you decide to start running the show from the bottom, don't be surprised when someone shows you the door.
                  See You At The Big One


                  • #10
                    I agree with a couple of the other posts....should they be suspended for 6 months? no probably not...but disciplined, sure...if they were told not to go, why go??

                    Dalmo is right....we dont do freelancing....was it a worthy cause? without a doubt......but unfortunatly freelancing is not tolerated well with this job.
                    To complain about taking their own gear i think is a pretty lousy excuse though
                    just my 2 pennies worth
                    stay safe
                    Its not something you do,
                    Its something you are.
                    "Whether we bring the terrorists to justice, or we bring justice to the terroists...Justice WILL BE DONE"... President Bush
                    Engine Co. # 1


                    • #11
                      Count me in with Dalmatian 90, Grit, MetalMedic and the others in support of the Chief. The chief was right in suspending these individuals. The first 24 hours of the incident were the most horrific nightmare that anyone could think of, but the one thing the FDNY had was accountability. They knew who was on duty, who responded and who made it out. The FDNY had their personnel and requested mutual aid from their neighboring communities. As a firefighter, I would have been willing to go to NYC if asked...but I wasn't. Firefighters with specialized skills, such as the USAR teams, DMAT teams were activated. If they wanted Westhampton Beach there, they would have been requested threough the proper channels.

                      If they wanted to help, there were other ways. Donate blood. Do a fundraiser. Do their job and protect their community.

                      Shed376...I encourage my personnel to use their heads and "think outside the box", but an the end of the day, everything has to be stored back inside the box to be used another time. Rules, regulations, SOP/SOG'S and general orders are there for a reason...to protect us so we can protect our communities.
                      ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
                      Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY


                      • #12
                        They did disobey and order...so discipline is in order....but suspension????? They did what a lot of the rest of us wanted to do badly but could not do so... I would have went had i been able to leave my job...My son would have went. Our brothers were in need.

                        Sure...FDNY is more than capable...but they were in a state of confusion and shock and utter disbelief. Outside help in moderation was in order...

                        So...smack em on the wrist...give em extra duty or a written reprimand... But 6 months?????? Come on folks... I guess if he can afford to suspend them for 6 months...staffing is not an issue???? What department can afford to lose people for that long? Is it a volunteer Dept???

                        If so...I think the chief committed political suicide by taking the action he took.. If a career department...he committed career suicide....

                        My opinion!
                        09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
                        IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
                        "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
                        BMI Investigator
                        The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


                        • #13
                          I have to agree w/ gonzo and the rest-

                          Every fire/ems/police worker out there would have gone if the call came to them, fact is the rest of us waited for the orders to come through proper channels. Freelancing is a bad thing in the command structure- even though they may have done the right thing they went outside the "team" concept we try so hard to keep alive becouse it works so well.
                          May we ride into the darkness only to return as safe as we started!!


                          • #14
                            Rules are Rules

                            BUT, and just my many of my post allways have a Big Butt.

                            Remember if your in the Miami FD you get rewarded for being stupid... All they have to do is that a vow to sue the city,,,

                            And they have a much better case then the 3 ff that will Not ride on fire trucks with the American Flag.

                            Yes, they were wrong, but Now with the 3 clowns in Miami how can you punish them...

                            These firefighters in there heart felt they were doing the right thing.

                            The 3 in Miami KNEW that what they were doing was bull Ship..

                            We should give the the same punishment a Paid vacation in Florida, Bush Gardens is nice this time of Year and FREE for All FD @ PD EMS Workers till Jan 1, 2001,,,,

                            Give Me A Break till Miami ShiP Cans those clowns you can't do ANYTHING TO ANYONE

                            THANKS AGAIN MIAMI....


                            • #15

                              there are some FD in Florida did the same damm thing, are there so called chiefs made the call to do so,

                              they are no better, and some might say worse, they are chief's they should know better lets fire them and kick there FD out of the IAFF Yeah,

                              Captain 12


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