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Smoke and Mirrors: Stop calling firefighters "heroes."

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  • Hero, hugh!

    Indeed your article may have some merit to it. I must agree with you on a few things. We do have one of the best work schedules which allows us some time off now and then. However, its been quite sometime that I can remember getting a good nights sleep here at work. So after pulling that 24 hours at work We now have to go home and catch up on some much needed rest.
    If it wasn't for us showing and teaching kids who come in for tours of our house about fire and how its not a toy, we would most definatly have our hands full. You see, Fire prevention is just as much part of our job as Firefighting, which means we have to be teachers as well.
    Yea, there are less fires now than before, we take up other skills such as rescue, EMS, and Haz mat. But isnt that another valuable service that we provide to the public?
    Firefighters dont have dangerous jobs, your right. I cant see any danger in crawling into a burning building in which we have no visibilty, the super heated environment that keeps us low to the floor. The left over needles from crack addicts laying in the floor of a burning crack house that could stick us in the knee. Traffic accidents in which we have to dodge oncoming vehicles not paying attention.
    The only thing on there mind is that we are in THIER WAY, holding THEM UP.
    Anyhow, I Bit. Hero is not a term I like to use often about our job. THANKLESS is More Appropriate!
    It sure is a good thing we have sports reporters doing such a fine service for the public. Putting life and limb on the line for countless people whom you've never met. GREAT JOB! You're my hero!


    • Don't be such as "dummy" Mongoose772

      Felt the need to respond to:
      "While many volunteer departments are plagued with “jolly whackers” that still think William Shatner made a big comeback on Rescue 911…the reality is that to most professional firefighters, this is just a job."

      Paid and union dosen't necessarily mean "professional". I've been involved in the volunteer fire service for 18 years as a firefighter, officer, instructor. I've seen professionals and amateurs in both paid and voluntter departments and the reality for most volunteer firefighters is that for us our fire service is "just a job" as well. A second, unpaid job that takes us from our homes and families in the middle of the night and which we strive to do in the most professional manner humanly possible. This nation's first responders are 90% volunteer. Show some respect brother!
      Stay safe, never forget.


      • Question: What do you say to someone that can't pass the fire test and is jealous of firefighters (heroes)?
        Answer: Nice article *******!!!!.....Slate.com, is that the best place you could find to post your pathetic attempt at "journalism". You are a sad, pathetic, weasel. If you ever need them, I'm sure you'll be very happy to see some of those "union protected adrenaline junkies" Rot in Hell you low life S.O.B.
        Steve J.


        • I can't believe what I'm seeing.

          I can't believe some of the stuff I'm seeing that has been written here. I see that there are those that wouldn't show up to help this guy if his house was burning or he needed medical aid. Others have posted his address and phone number, then tried to justify it saying that it was already available in the public domain. That's all well and good, but it doesn't mean that you have to make it easy for some fruitcake by finding it for him. Don't be so naieve as to think that there aren't one or two that read these forums.

          It's not like that was bad enough, but now "someone" has suggested that he should be tracked down and killed. THAT particular post was quite possibly the most moronic, childish, and potentially dangerous thing I've seen posted here. Congrats...you've achieved a higher plane.

          What the hell is wrong with you guys? The article was little more than literary gasoline that he threw onto a pile of coals...a big flash, and it's gone. Was it that he wanted to take away the holy title of "hero"? Is that why you're doing this job? To be called a hero? If that's why, you're no more of a firefighter than the author of this article. There was nothing in what he wrote that warranted some of the responses I've read in this thread.

          He called me(us) an adrenaline junkie. There's some truth to that, I guess. At least in my case. I look back at what I used to do for relaxation, and see that the title may not be that far from the truth. In addition to things like baseball and basketball, I've raced motorcycles and cars, ski, spelunked caves, climbed and rapelled cliff faces all over Ohio, Kentucky and West VA, competitively fired firearms, and but for some broken bones from a motorcycle wreck at the time of opportunity, would have taken up skydiving (I never said I was good at any of this stuff ). In fact I still may do the skydiving thing, since my interest is piqued again. I hardly think I needed firefighting in my life to get that adrenalin rush.

          It's not the only reason that I do this stuff though. I know the reasons, and quite frankly, I don't care if anyone else knows why or not. I don't need Douggie's or anyone else's validation for anything I feel or do. Firefighting just seems to be a perfect fit for me. I volunteered for years, and now I'm lucky enough to be paid for it, so I'd be doing it either way. I see it as far more my lifestyle than my vocation. My immersion in it has cost me a lot over the years, and not monetarily.

          Like has been stated in this thread ad nauseum, this is one person's opinion. Is it that important that so many are disgracing themselves and their brothers and sisters by threatening to not do their jobs and all the other stuff? He upset me as well, but jeeze...he's nobody, and his article is little more than drivel. Be ****ed, but there's a line that several are crossing in their response to this thing.

          Those of you that would be willing to turn your backs on anybody whose property was burning or needed some other assistance that you would willingly offer to anyone else that needed it, should consider taking up writing op-ed pieces like this, because your attitude is disgraceful. You're giving his piece national attention. Has it crossed your mind at all that there is going to be a follow up piece to show just how right he was, and what a bunch of immature whiney asses we all are? You've given him more than enough **** to make us all stink. You can rest assured that he won't even mention posts like Chief Reason's or E229Lt's. Why would or should he. He's after the "shock effect", and he certainly has gotten it here.

          I wasn't going to address this issue again, but I was laying out my Class A's to do the honor guard gig for one of our retiree's funeral in the morning, and it started me thinking what he would have thought seeing this kind of response to the musings of such an obscure author. Knowing his attitude, I'm sure he would have been far more upset by some of the responses of the "firefighters" here than by the article.

          I think E229Lt said it best when he said:
          ...we don't look at ourselves as heroes. The pain came from the inference that we do.
          To be offended is appropriate, and so is "publishing" your opinion. BUT you are supposed to be professionals...act like it. Stop embarrassing yourselves, and the rest of us along with you.

          Believe me, Doug's article is rapidly becoming less and less of an issue for me than the crap that some people are posting in response to it.
          Last edited by Steamer; 11-06-2003, 01:02 PM.
          Steve Gallagher
          IACOJ BOT
          "I don't apologize for anything. When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes


          • We aren't all heros, but the wife and kids of some drunk a-hole who comes home at 3am and decides to cook breakfast just befor he passes out and sets the house on fire. They think we are pretty good people to see in the driveway.And a lot of us do that for free.


            • Steamer I couldn't agree more. Enough said. Let it go now. This guy wants publicity. Let's not give him what he wants.
              "We shouldn't be opening firehouses in Baghdad and closing them in New York City."



              • Most have been feeding him since this got posted .......
                IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
                Pardon me sir.. .....but I believe we are all over here !
                ATTENTION ALL SHOPPERS: Will the dead horse please report to the forums.(thanks Motown)
                RAY WAS HERE 08/28/05
                LETHA' FOREVA' ! 010607
                I'm sorry, I haven't been paying much attention for the last 3 hours.....what were we discussing?
                "but I guarentee you I will FF your arse off" from>
                http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115


                • IAFF President: Author's 'Ill-Gotten Gold'
                  Dear Mr. Weisberg :
                  I write in reference to Douglas Gantenbein's posting on Friday, October 31. While I will withhold my comments regarding his character and sensibility for the face-to-face meeting I hope to arrange, I will share some broader thoughts here.
                  Mr. Gantenbein, among other exploits, spent four months on a fireline in the West and now styles himself as the arbiter of all things related to fires and fire fighting.
                  His experience, however brief, has allowed him to fully comprehend all of the greedy motives of the nation's fire and rescue professionals--and he has graciously consented to share that insight with us.
                  And greedy we apparently are. Mr. Gantenbein has us slyly purveying our propaganda" using the trappings," cards," and labels" of heroism" while we sleep" at our cushy job."
                  Our job, he reminds us, isn't that dangerous" and is usually not terribly onerous," though he manages in the same breath to excoriate us (adrenaline junkies") for the very real risks that we take. In Mr. Gantenbein's world we are truly damned if we do...
                  Though there is much with which to take exception in an article best characterized as revolting, nothing matches his disgraceful decision to refer to funerals for fire fighters killed-in-the-line-of-duty as tasteless" and absurd." In his sociopathic zeal to de-mythologize fire fighters, must he really sink so low?
                  To Mr. Gantenbein we would say that the world is full of heroes, if being a hero means a person who exhibits a measure of selfless courage.
                  We suspect that the public reserves some special depth of feeling for those who are courageous on behalf of others. Of course, that includes not just fire fighters, but police officers, social workers, health care professionals and all those who truly serve the rest of us. And we believe that the public, despite Mr. Gantenbein's rotting prose, will continue to choose its heroes wisely.
                  Perhaps if we are truly lucky, Mr. Gantenbein is at this very moment working for a month or two in a busy hospital so that he may inform us of the lavish working conditions and outrageous pay of the nation's nurses. Or perhaps he will teach for a term in an inner-city school in an attempt to persuade us that public school teachers are over-paid and under-worked.
                  Perhaps--but we think not.
                  It is however, very likely that Mr. Gantenbein will continue to line his pockets with ill-gotten gold, derived from those who really serve our society. In so doing, he will only underscore the obvious: that when we look upon the world we tend to see what is in our own hearts. And in his case it's a rather bleak and barren view. Still, we wish him the best in his search for the villains among us, however misguided his search may be.
                  Respectfully yours,
                  Harold A. Schaitberger
                  General President

                  Dont buy Gantebbeins book, steal it...

                  And then burn it.

                  Seriously, do NOT buy anything with this guys name anywhere near it.

                  Adrenaline Junky...

                  Yep, thats me, I cant lie. I love mortorcycles, paintball, and a lot of other dangerous stuff. If that makes me less of a person, then oh well, I would rather be an animal anyway.

                  Yes, fighting fire gives me an adrenaline fix. Haul me away, lock me up, I am an adict.

                  -Brotherhood: I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.
                  -Mistakes: It could be that the purpose of you life is to serve as a warning to others.

                  -Adversity: That which does not kill me postpones the inevitable.

                  -Despair: Its always darkest before it goes Pitch Black.


                  • Let this guy say what he will, because no matter what is said, I still will go to work, I will still love my job, and I still will not need validation of it from anyone. I don't want to be a hero, I don't want anyone to take notice of what I may (or may not) do. I will just keep doing what I do, because it is what I want in my life and I love it no matter what any one person may write...
                    "We had trouble putting out the fire because the house and everything in it was burning at the time"---The Chief while speaking to the press--no lie


                    • OK, who's the fireman that boned this guy's wife when he was at Star Trek convention? He's mad at us for something!

                      When our forefathers drafted the Constitution, I'm sure they never expected freedom of speech reveal such an idiot! Just when when I thought I had met the world's biggest jackass, this guy went and wrote an article!


                      • I think that a lot of you folks have covered all of my opinions.

                        I truly belive myself, that this guy once attempted to become a firefighter and just couldn't make the cut... So now, he has to bash us. Another thing I truly believe, if you are in this field to acheive the title "hero" you need to find another career. I am just getting into the fire service, I am getting into because I like to be able to help those in need.


                        • Re: I can't believe what I'm seeing.

                          Originally posted by Steamer

                          What the hell is wrong with you guys? The article was little more than literary gasoline that he threw onto a pile of coals...a big flash, and it's gone. Was it that he wanted to take away the holy title of "hero"? Is that why you're doing this job? To be called a hero? If that's why, you're no more of a firefighter than the author of this article.

                          you are supposed to be professionals...act like it. Stop embarrassing yourselves, and the rest of us along with you.

                          WT, Is there any way to move these two comments to the top of this thread? Maybe people will read them before they post something "unintelligent" (to put it mildly)

                          Bravo Steamer


                          • Steamer once again is showing the way... We dont need some hack writer on a web site to explain to us who we are. The average citizen dosent care what he thinks either. We for the most part are good people who see many bad things. We have our own "black humor"..never quite "understood" by the masses. But that is what makes us special. I do not know of many firefighters that are comfortable with the "hero" tag. We do what we do for many reasons. The love of helping someone out,the love of being part of such a great big dysfuctional family and yes there are those among us who are in the fire service for all the WRONG reasons. It IS a great career. It IS a great way to serve your community if you're a volunteer. Please dont take what this moron says to heart. He is wrong.He may think he is right, but I do believe deep down, he had some sort of "run in" with a firefighter and is now using his bully pulpit for payback. Let him go at it. It is much better to address his view using facts, like the esteemed Mike Ward did instead of chest puffing and threats.... Even though I wouldnt mind running into him spouting off myself. He got his way. He got us mad and now he should go away and we should go back to what we do. Who really cares WHAT this guy thinks of us. His opinion to me is about as important as this fly that is buzzing around the firehouse.
                            IAFF-IACOJ PROUD


                            • Couldn't agree more MIKEY... Let him say what he wants, sure there are those out there that want to achieve the title of "hero", but most the vast majority of us don't want or are uncomfortable with the title.

                              I can remember serveral years ago... And before anyone forms an opinion, read the whole thing!

                              I was working as a Security Officer, mid-morning on my way home from work... I noticed a house ablaze, I was armed with many things... one of them pepper spray and a firearm with many bullets... They make for a hazard when heat is introduced! Not thinking or caring, I entered the burning building to check for victims (another stupid thing... no PPE)... luck would have it, no one was trapped. The media tried to interview me to tag me as a "hero"... I walked away and would not talk to anyone other than the fire investigators.
                              That would make for a hero all and all, regardless of any victims trapped... I didn't want the title, because I didn't do what I did to try and become one! I did what I did because there could have been innocent people trapped inside. Occassionally, I think about... but, I think if it were to happen this very instance... I wouldn't hesitate to do it again or do anything different!

                              A hero isn't a firefighter, police officer, social services, sports star or anything of the like... a hero is someone/anyone who does something out of the kindness of their heart and one who has compassion!
                              Last edited by be58d2003; 11-06-2003, 06:07 PM.


                              • Originally posted by be58d2003
                                A hero isn't a firefighter, police officer, social services, sports star or anything of the like... a hero is someone/anyone who does something out of the kindness of their heart and one who has compassion!

                                I couldn't agree more on your definition of a "hero". I have a hero in my life and it sure isn't a Firefighter, a sports star, a police officer or anyone of the like ......... My hero is my Mom, people who know me well here will know why I say that. But my Mom and those just like her who silently fight battles without complaint are true heroes.
                                To the world you might be one person, but to one person you just might be the world.

                                IACOJ-WOT proud

                                GO WHITE SOX!!!!!


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