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Firefighters supended six months for taking their gear to WTC

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  • #16
    Opinions huh? Well here is mine. If these firefighters went with out authorization and without being requested by FDNY, that was NOT the right thing to do. If these personnel had been told not to go by their Chief and went anyway, they should have been terminated for insubordination. If they had not received a direct order to not go then in my opinion the suspension is warranted. You do not want anyone coming into your area messing up your scene so why would you want to mess up someone elses? Stay home, protect yours, and respond when requested and authorized. Like I said, just my opinion.


    • #17
      Well I'll add my two cents worth as well. Organized responses from Suffolk County Fire Departments were coordinated through the Dept. of Fire Rescue & Emergency Services. Specific types of units were called for and not all of them were utilized. Many wound up sitting in staging for hours on end before ebing sent home. I'm the Chief of a paid federal fire department and we did not get called. Sure, initial reaction is to respond and help, but we have seen this time and time again at major incidents. A disregard for the Incident Command System which we are all should be well versed in. Freelancing has caused major problems and will continue to cause problems in the future. I'm sure that there is more to the original posting that warrants a 6 month suspension, but "thinking outside the box" does not mean being insubordinate and doing as you wish.
      My initial gut reaction was exactly the same, go in and help with our city firefighters and dig with my bare hands if necessary until I bled to the bone. But, we cannot let our emotions take precedence over our responsibilities.
      As I said, this is my 2 cents worth and starting 30 years ago in the fire service, I'm entitled to those opinions. We cannot let the events of 9-11 disrupt our fire service infrastructure. If we let this happen, the terrorists have accomplished another of their goals. Remeber, every check and expect secondary incidents. The actions of 9-11 should not let our responsibilities fail to each other.


      • #18
        To all the people who think that there is nothing wrong with just showing up in NYC on Sept. 11 and jumping into the fray without the benefit of working under the incident command system, I can only guess that in your home departments you have no problem with any firefighters who want to showing up with gear at your working jobs and pitching in.


        • #19
          Yes we cannot condone freelancing, it kills people in some cases. Suspend, yes. 6 months, a little harsh. Sounds like a chief is making a point here, strong as it may be. If these guys disobeyed a direct order then perhaps the punisment is just, if not then they probably have the appeal process to use. What we have to realize is that every action has its concequences, maybe these guys had every good intention in mind but did not weigh their actions. Its unfortunate that they have been suspended but a little forthought sometime goes a long way in keeping out of the stinky stuff.


          • #20
            Our brothers were in need.
            But their department and area where not in need of more firefighters. The 343 lives lost where probably less than 10% of the on-duty force and 2% of the entire department. Before you even start to pull in the ample mutual aid available. It's a h*ll of a loss of lives, but 2% hardly cripples a department.

            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...
            Which is precisely ****WHY**** having firefighters not responding on their own was and in the future will be so important. Having a bunch of people show up, with no knowledge of their actual identity, outside of normal channels of command and control, would **not** have been moderate, and it only adds to confusion, and distracts commanders from getting their own troops back in organization.

            What department can afford to lose people for that long? Is it a volunteer Dept???
            Probably one that cares about responding to incidents in an organized, professional manner and realizes organizations that keep everyone pulling in one direction attracts and keeps members easier than one that allows everyone to go off and do their own thing with no personal accountability.

            I'm sure it's a volunteer department -- Long Island has around 200 volunteer departments and 10,000 or so vollies (probably an underestimate...seriously.)

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

            Thank God most people respect people who can fairly enforce discipline.
            IACOJ Canine Officer


            • #21
              This entire thread was interesting from my point of view. I was part of a FEMA S&R team deployed to the site on Sept. 25th. I do not believe FDNY was the best equipped to handle the incident due to the fact that their top people in urban search and rescue perished in the collapse. From the start, all FEMA teams, largely comprised of professional firefighters with extensive addition training, sat on the sidelines and watched as volunteers carried out multiple aimless searches. The first team (out of 8 available)wasn't allowed on the pile until the fourth day.
              Upon arrival, our team from Southern Nevada received complaints of actions of our members behaving unprofessionally. As it turned out, 10 to 15 members of North Las Vegas FD took their turnouts and flew to NYC and snuck into the hot zone. It was naturally assumed that they were with us. Not only did we have to deal with the stigma of being an outside federal agency, but we had to repeately distance ourselves from these freelancers. An already volatile situation was endangered by individuals putting their own personal interests over the legitimate operations of the disaster.
              I was ashamed to be associated with these "fellow firefighters".


              • #22
                While I'm probably just adding another "Me too!" post here, I have to agree with the Chief's desision. This kind of thing happened a lot. Here in Connecticut, there was a little blurb on the news about some firefighters who took a piece of apparatus down to NYC, against orders, and then got it damaged. They were, I believe, suspended. I'm not 100% sure, since the news never followed up on it. And I've heard through the grapevine that a bunch of other guys went down either against orders, or without permission.

                Myself, I'm a big fan of organization and order. I was really pleased at how well NE Connecticut organized a response to the incident. As far as I know, nobody had to go, but by 7PM or so Tuesday evening, we had thousands of fire and EMS people ready to respond as they were needed. Most likely, we'd have been covering assignments in the areas of CT closer to New York. But either way, you're helping.

                Myself, I wasn't selected to go. Of course everyone wanted to, but we couldn't strip our own town. I was just as proud, however, to be part of the "home guard". Those of us who were staying behind worked out an impromptu system to get a good daytime response for those of us who work in places where our pagers don't go off. If our guys had gone, I would have been just as happy to tell stories years from now about how I had been part of a group of people who'd protected our own town, even with diminished resources. It kind of reminded me of my favorite book from when I was a kid, about an old fireman with an old fire engine who saves the day while the rest of his department is out fighting a big fire in the city.

                Anyway, there's my pre-coffee rambling for the day.



                • #23
                  Originally posted by fyrcanine:
                  I was part of a FEMA S&R team deployed to the site on Sept. 25th. I do not believe FDNY was the best equipped to handle the incident due to the fact that their top people in urban search and rescue perished in the collapse. From the start, all FEMA teams, largely comprised of professional firefighters with extensive addition training, sat on the sidelines and watched as volunteers carried out multiple aimless searches. The first team (out of 8 available)wasn't allowed on the pile until the fourth day.
                  While I agree that the FDNY was unable to deal with the USAR aspects of the disaster (most of the team and team leader were missing), there were three professional USAR teams (not FEMA teams) that were deployed at the request of NY on the 12th. At that time, there were no FEMA teams on location (although there were a few Incident Advance Teams there). I don't know how you know what happened in the first four days if you weren't there until the 25th. Once the FEMA teams were assembled and got the "FEMA o.k." they deployed.

                  I think you are doing a disservice to the professional non-FEMA teams by calling them "volunteer" and implying that they were doing an amateurish job.

                  It is my understanding that all three of the teams received compliments from the FEMA teams and were requested by FEMA to remain on scene for the full ten day deployment.
                  The above is MY OPINION only and not that of anyone else. I am not representing any organization in making a post here!!!!


                  • #24
                    A similar incident occurred in the County I live in (2 counties above NYC),where a vollie EMS Captain (also a FF,although quite poor!)stated in the local paper that he "couldn't stand to see the pain on the faces of his Brothers anymore, he had to do something", so he gathered up his issued TOG,and beat feet for Ground Zero. Blah,Blah,Blah,big hero at the WTC...Front page of the local paper....HERO....Blah,Blah-F'ing Blah!

                    This supposed Officer,broke a direct order from his Company Chief,County Fire Coordinators,State Fire Coordinators, and ignored a request from The FDNY....because he "had to help"!

                    And was made to look like a hero!

                    Just like those yahoos from Long Island who couldn't wait till they got called, or start some other type of fundraiser - blood drive,boot drive,whatever!- they had to ignore orders to say, "Yep, I was on that job!"

                    For those that were called to help, Thank You, what you have done for the Nation's Greatest Fire Department cannot be measured, For those of you that were lined up in human bucket conveyers, moving rubble for hours, again Thank You.

                    For you MUTTS that buffed the job......Well I think you get the point.
                    FTM - PTB


                    • #25
                      ....And by the way. You think a 6 month suspension is rough? Just be glad I am NOT your Chief.
                      FTM - PTB


                      • #26
                        I have to agree that the Chief was right in suspending them, although I do think 6 months was a bit much. He needed to make a point, but unless these folks were regular discipline problems all he did was deprive himself of 2 volunteers for an extended period of time.

                        My squad is trained in Structural Collapse. We train to FEMA standards and are part of a statewide task force. My people were absolutely itching to go. Many of our friends from other USAR teams were there and some of us know some of the missing.

                        With that said, I also issued a memo ordering people not to go without permission. They'd have been suspended and not covered by Workman's Comp if they got hurt.

                        Why? Not just because of the memo we also got from our state, but because I respect the fact that on a large scale incident too many people can cause more harm than good. They already had a 6-block area filled with 'rescuers' they didn't know what to do with, had no way to feed or house.

                        I have run a large scale (it doesn't begin to compete with this, but for us it was big) incident and had the problem of extra 'help'. What happened is that folks came when the initial incident happened from all over, even though they weren't requested.

                        This was a trench recovery and we were out there for about 14 hours.

                        At first I let them stay but eventually started turning them away. That caused some hard feelings, but you can only put so many people in a hot zone at a time.

                        The big problem was that by the time we got to the later part of the day folks started dissapearing. If they'd have waited until I called, they'd have been fresh and could have rotated in to relieve others.

                        You should be able to concentrate on the incident at hand, not be worrying about what to do with 100 or 1000 extra people.

                        Things are done for a reason and I don't presume to second guess others when I'm not there. If they needed extra help, they'd have called for it.
                        Susan Lounsbury
                        Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
                        Griffith Volunteer FD


                        • #27
                          Duty,discipline,and honor.
                          Three things we as firefighters value so very much. However,if we choose to ignore just one of the theese things it makes the rest of them worthless. Question?: Did these guys have a duty to act? probably not,but i'm sure they felt like they did.
                          Discipline:We in the fire service have to be extremely disciplined! This has time and time again proved to be one of the most important parts of our jobs. Without discipline we would have kaoz. Without discpline we would not not be able to keep our cool in the countless amounts of extreme situations we face. Without discipline we would have freelancing.We each are taught through countless hours of training that freelancing is very dangerous and corruptive of the incident command system.
                          Question: Did these guys freelance? probably so. I believe these guys had very good intentions but we set rules up in a certain way in order to protect all. As far as being suspended for six months,well i must say i believe this is a bit extreme. The fire service has already suffered a tremendous loss of personnel,think that by suspending these guys for this long is only going to further damage an already damaged system.
                          Let us not forget that our country is now at war and that we as a nation have been placed on the highest level of alert. Perhaps a lessor punishment was in order but it seems that the commanding officer let his anger get the better part of his judgement.
                          This brings me to the last of the three words honor, I strongly believe these guys did a very honorable thing by trying to help. I think many of us may have reacted in the same way.
                          I also think their chief needs to review his decision to see if this was the honorable thing to do. Anyhow this is just my thougnts on the topic.

                          Thoughts and prayers go to those affected by this seemingly thuoghtless decision. Keep the faith.


                          • #28
                            All respect Sue, 'cause you had a good reply...but one point I want to re-emphasize:

                            He needed to make a point, but unless these folks were regular discipline problems all he did was deprive himself of 2 volunteers for an extended period of time.

                            I wrote above Long Island has huge number of vollies...this is from Westhampton Beach's website (www.whbfd.com):

                            Over the past 75 years the Westhampton Beach Fire Department has grown in size to over 100 volunteer firefighters, 15 pieces of apparatus and one state-of-the-art water rescue boat.

                            A few suspensions out of a membership of a 100 probably isn't going to be more noticed than normal turnover.

                            One wonders sometimes which comes first...the willingness to discipline members, or having enough members you're willing to discipline. Interesting question, no?
                            IACOJ Canine Officer


                            • #29
                              Geez, I stand corrected. I guess I'm just used to small numbers. I'm lucky if I can keep 25 on the roster. I wouldn't know what to do with 100.
                              Susan Lounsbury
                              Winston-Salem Rescue Squad
                              Griffith Volunteer FD


                              • #30
                                Dalmation...very interesting...we have a dangerous, freelancing, moronic idiot for a Lt., but our higher ups refuse to discipline him to the members standards because..and I quote "we don't have anyone else to do the job right now." All I know is that a number of our members don't come around anymore because they can't stand this guy as a Lt. and because they are shocked and disgusted at all the stuff he gets away with. It has been a problem for over a year..and we re-elect officers in Jan. but his position is appointed not elected...what a shame. Being Chief does not mean being everyone's friend...it makes you the manager of that company, and as a manager you sometimes have to discipline people and make tough decisions. If you are not willing to do that then you should not be a Chief.
                                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!


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