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Smoke and Mirrors: Stop calling firefighters "heroes."

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Mongoose772
    Brothers & Sisters:

    Yes, his prose is inflammatory, but there is a significant amount of truth in what he writes.


    But his arguments don't hold water. Just insert the word "volunteer" before the word "firefighter" and you'll see what I mean.

    Perhaps he'd like to engage in a rational argument. We could talk about latent vs. realized demand for fire protection, injury rates vs. other industries, rather than fatality rates. And how many cardiac events are actually dehydration-related, and not the result of being out of shape? But he never goes there.

    Yes, the word hero is quite tired. There are too many people out there (in every profession, including ours) whose sad, pathetic lives can only be made bearable if they can cloak themselves in superlatives which they have not earned. His beef should be with those who have limited vocabularies, not those of us who work for a living.

    FWIW, I only wish to be a hero to my own children, and I do that by being who I am, not because of what I do for a living.
    ullrichk
    a.k.a.
    perfesser

    a ship in a harbor is safe. . . but that's not what ships are for

    Comment


    • #17
      While there may be some factual information in this article...the conclusions do not necessarily follow.

      No fireman I've ever met call himself or any of the guys they work with heroes. I know I don't consider myself one. And I certainly don't have a cushy job...in fact one reason I am a fireman (and I imagine most of you is I didn't want a cushy job sitting behind a desk like Mr. Gantenbein. Many guys I work with used to have "cushy" jobs in corporate america.

      The title of hero has been bestowed upon us by the public and newspaper writers since our earliest days when even the largest cities were protected by volunteer fire companies.

      Just the same the public has also adorned sports stars and others as heroes. I don't think that many of them (remember Charles Barkley) want to be viewed as roll models or heroes as well.
      However it isn't up to them...it is up to the public perception as to who is and who isn't a hero. As unfortunate as it is there are some neighborhoods in my city where many residents who don't view police officers as positive roll models or even friends. They are not heroes and they are not necessarily looked well upon. And as sad as it is this situation isn't common to my city.

      I'm sure the police don't like being viewed as the enemy as it only makes their job tougher...however it isn't up to them, it is the civilians and media who make such labels.

      It is obvious that this writer has poorly researched his subject and for some reason decided to address his inadequacies and insecurities as a man by insulting and disparaging men who everyday are motivated by duty, honor and tradition to meet any challenge that might be thrown at them that tour. Regardless if it be a child or a pompous, arrogant and ignorant M***.

      FTM-PTB

      Comment


      • #18
        This is a copy of the email I sent to both, the author of the article and the publisher.

        Mr. Gantenbein and the Staff of Sports Illustrated:

        My name is Shane A. I am writing this email to inform you of how disappointed I am in the article "Smoke and Mirrors: Stop calling firefighters "heros." I am a firefighter/EMT in the town of E. Hampton, CT. My career also lies within the Emergency Medical Services. I spend the majority of my life dedicated to working on the streets of Hartford, CT, working closely with the fire and police departments in the city. Mr. Gantenbein has written an article that is truely offensive to those involved in the emergency services, in particular, those in the fire service.

        Mr. Gantenbein claims that firefighters have a "cushy job." Apparently Mr. Gantenbein has never spent a 24 hour shift riding along with an Engine Company in a busy city service. The 24 hour shift that many fire departments run are not just sitting back washing trucks and cooking burgers. Fire departments have had constantly expanding roles including search and rescue (which is one of the most exhausting calls to ever go on), responding to EMS calls as first responders (or transport services for Fire Dept. based EMS), Motor Vehicle accidents, public safety education and fire inspections. The actual numbers of true fire emergencies has declined due to better building codes and fire prevention systems, but the need for response still exists in great demand.

        The next point made in the article is that "Firefighting is not that dangerous." Safety equipment has improved greatly over the years, making the profession safer then years past. I believe that Mr. Gantenbein neglects to take into consideration the amount of emotional stress involved in having a profession where you must be 100% right, 100% of the time. The comment is made that most of the line of duty deaths that occur during an actual fire are those caused by "some unbelieveable screw-up in chain of command." On an emergency scene, things are far from being a well structured day at the office. There are countless variables, and conditions can change at any moment without warning. There's a saying within the fire service "Risk a little to save a little; Risk a lot to save a lot." Any firefighter knows that any call could be his/her last alarm. It's a risk they've made the decision to accept. It could be your family or loved one that gets saved because someone is willing to give their life to save that of you or your loved one. That's a rather generous commitment that most people would not be willing to provide.

        Following the sequence of the article, "firefighters are adrenaline junkies." To some extent this is very true. You have to be to do this kind of work. It certainly isn't done for the pay, since most civil service jobs don't pay very well, and the majority of the countries fire protection comes from volunteers like myself who do not get paid anything at all for our time and commitment. Firefighters take pride in being a part of what they do. Three major concepts in firefighting are: Life Safety (save any viable life), Incident Stabilization (prevent the incident from worsening), and Property Conservation (save the property in the best and most effecient way possible). These three commitments require a quick action that usually is well calculated and is also adrenaline based. If it weren't, we'd be doing more recoveries then rescues, and rebuilding more then reapiring structures.

        "Firefighters have excellent propaganda skills." That's a rather bold statement in itself. These firefighters have given their life in an attempt to help someone else. They didn't have to choose to do this. They chose it because of a love for what they do. No firefighter wants to have the long formal funeral as that means that they have answered their final call, it's a tradition. Does that mean that the military should not have their ceremonies for those who have given their all? After all, it's just the military "doing their thing."

        Your final statement being "Firefighters are just another special interest group." Another brave statement. We don't need to look very far in any field to find some organizations plagued with problems. The catholic church's with sexual offenders, school's with teacher's have sex with students or taking bribes for grades, major businesses with corupt CEO's. The list could go on and on. Yes, the fire service is heavily unionized in those department's that are paid. And yes, the union does look out for it's own. But if you're not looking out for yourself, who's going to look out for you? The fire service is a very tight brother/sisterhood. In a profession where you must trust each other and their decisions with your life, you learn to look out for each other. It's just the way it is.

        The only thing I have been able to summarize from this piece of literature is that Mr. Gantenbein has never spent any true time to see the inner workings of the emergency services before writing this article. Any time you want to spend a night discussing the trials and tribulations of being involved in a high risk, moderately paying job (if at all for some), that is highly stressful, I'd be happy to have the conversation with you. I'd be happy to tell you about how being involved in something as powerful as the fire service has affected my life in both the good and the bad. There's not a single person that can say that they're unaffected by what they see and have to do on a regular basis. I can sum it with this. Any day at work, I may get to see the miracles of life, or the tradgedies of distruction and death or pain and suffering. If it were such a stress free, easy job, I'm sure that many other people would participate to have this "hero" status that you're concerned with stripping from those who are willing to take the chance of giving everything to help someone they've never seen before. All to possibly get a thank you...If they are lucky enough to even get that.

        Shane A.
        CT State Cert. Firefighter I
        NREMT-Basic
        Paramedic Student

        Comment


        • #19
          Excellent email Shane...
          Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

          Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
          North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
          "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
          www.legacyofheroes.org
          www.firehistory.org
          www.sconfire.com

          Comment


          • #20
            Mongoose, While I will agree somewhat with your point that there is some truth to what this guy wrote, it is the disrespectful tone of his article that I find so offensive. Not to mention his contempt for our ceremonies for our fallen brothers and his belief that we are all glory hounds. He is also completely forgetting about the volunteer segment of the fire service.

            BTW, It is the same disrespectful tone as this:

            Originally posted by Mongoose772


            3. “Firefighters are adrenalin junkies.” I don’t agree with that. 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.
            While I will be the first to admit that you will find these types of people in some Volunteer firehouses, I'd hardly call it a "plague." Just as there are many "professional" full-time firefighters on these forums and most likely even in your department that think this is more than "just a job."

            Thanks for dragging the old "paid vs. vollie" into something else where it has absolutely no place. I guess we don't really need this guy's help to make firefighters look bad, do we?

            BorderPatrol
            100% Volunteer Firehouse

            Comment


            • #21
              I just got done posting my reply on this matter over there on those MSN forums and i signed up for the forums there for this one purpose.
              Heres my reply over there:


              Subject: "Smoke and Mirrors"
              From: femalechief44
              Date: Nov 1 2003 9:48PM

              "Apparently this guy hasnt been around the Fire Service that long,otherwise he would not have made some of the statements he made in his article and his 4 months or 4 years(whatever it was) is only a very small stint compared to those of us thats been in the services for many years.I think he had better do a bit more research on the fire services,visit more fire stations and interview more fire service personnell before he makes many more statements like the ones he has made in his article.
              Furthermore,if he DID more research,he would see that we indeed are ALOT more busier than he realizes and that many of us do not have the time for the "extra" stuff that he mentions.We do this job simply becuase many of us WANT to...or that we feel it is our duty to do so.Ill bet once he really happened to NEED us for some kind of an incident,ill bet hed change his attitude towards whether we are "heroes" or not.We do not actually see ourselves as "heroes"...but we see ourselves doing a job,a duty and a service...to the public...to see to the welfare of our "fellow citizens".Once he realizes this,maybe he will forget the "stereotyping"."


              I also emailed him..as well as Sports Illustrated letting them know what a BIG mistake they made putting down the only "help" that may be there for them someday...and to remember the words about us that is in that article when hes looking us in the faces and crying for help....and he tends to forget those of us that are on the front lines of these wildland fires that just MAY be protecting his home...and/or life.

              I told SI to either keep him "on-subject" or US firefighters would boycott thier magazine. LOL

              Donna C
              Fire Chief
              Bridge Canyon VFD
              http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ

              Comment


              • #22
                As I read through this thread I was gearing myself up to write a long-winded response... until I came across what Mongoose wrote. I couldn't sum up my feelings towards that article any better, two thumbs up mongoose.

                Don't get me wrong, I (like mongoose) don't agree with the inflamitory tone in which the article is written.... but it does speak a lot of home truths.

                To those of you who responded to this thread with just a "screw you" attitude, I say re-read it and actually think about how you behave and how the public might percieve you.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Well, one thing about living in this country is ones freedom of speech. Although I believe his comments are totally off the wall, and at times downright degrading... he has a right to say what he wants. But, out of all of his idiotic ramblings, none offended me worse than the following...

                  New York firefighters, admittedly deep in grief over lost co-workers, exacerbated the challenge of body recovery operations after 9/11 by insisting on elaborate removal procedures for each firefighter uncovered, an insult to others who died there.
                  I belive many of those brothers climbed those stairs knowing that either the building would probably collapse... or that another plane would hit... either way, I feel that many knew they would probably not return from that job... They all deserve more respect than any of us are able to possibly bestow upon them.

                  The "cushy job" statment was a slap in the face as well. I can tell you one thing... there's NOTHING cushy about pulling up and finding an intersection full of dead children... scattered along the asphalt. At times like that I even have to ask myself why I have placed myself in a situation where I have to deal with that. But, when I cradle that lifeless little body, knowing there's nothing I can do for him/her, and place them in an ambulance... or off to the side on some grass somewhere... I remember that I'm glad that there's someone like me who cares enough to show them the same respect I would want shown to a member of my family.

                  When my LT. was still in EMS there was more than once where he phoned dispatch or an EMS LT. and told them he was going home.. period, find someone to come in.. He didn't do it so he could go to his second job... he did it because he had seen one too many children die that shift... and when he went home it was to sit alone in the dark holding his sleeping baby.

                  The shear contempt that this article was written with makes me sick. It sounds to me like this "looser" has formed his opinions by watching hollywood action films. As for his comments about how busy a firehouse really is.. we felt we had a slow shift being as it was Halloween last night... 2 fires and 1 medical run on the engine, 3 runs on the truck, and 5 on the squad... I could not even tell you how many hours the ambulance was gone (as usual for them).
                  http://www.sanantoniofire.org

                  IACOJ
                  Got Crust?

                  We lucky few, ... we band of brothers

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    I know the feeling 33MOTOR...had one of those kid death incidents just this past July 4th.Lost 3 kids under 12 on that rollover and it will be forever in my mind about having to "body bag" those kids.

                    Donna C
                    Fire Chief
                    Bridge Canyon VFD
                    http://cms.firehouse.com/dept/SeligmanAZ

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      From what I read about this guy it seems that he spent a short time with a wildland crew out west, doing research for a book he wrote aboute wildfires. So, I guess that makes him an authority on ALL dept's country wide. I'm sure most of his time on the fire line was spent sitting in the cab of a brush truck, munching on a twinkie.... spitting little chunks of filling and bread out of his mouth every time an ember even came close to landing near the truck.

                      And how about his comment that makes one believe that all dept's have a calander! What??? Oh yeah, I'm in one every year... yeah right! He's probably just ticked that they turned down his offer to be a fluffer.
                      http://www.sanantoniofire.org

                      IACOJ
                      Got Crust?

                      We lucky few, ... we band of brothers

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Freedom of Speech Doesn't Cover Stupidity

                        Freedom of Speech shall only go as far as this MUTT'S rope shall hang!

                        Freedom of Speech doesn't cover LIBEL!!!

                        WHAT A MUTT!!! MAN AM I FUMING!!!

                        I WROTE HIM ONE HELLUVA NASTY LETTER, MOST LIKELY NOT HIS FIRST FROM ONE OF US, WHICH I POSTED ON THE OTHER THREAD ON THIS TOPIC (bashing the brotherhood)!!!

                        Anyone have access to a MUTT HUNTER?

                        WHERE'S CAPTAIN GONZO & THE IACOJ WHEN YA REALLY NEED EM?!?!

                        (Maybe I just didn't read up far enough...)

                        Anyway...Stay Safe Brothers & Sisters!!!
                        LREngine135
                        Firefighter/EMT-B


                        All things I say...while not always making sense are ALWAYS my opinion and only mine. They do not reflect the opinions of any department of which I am a member.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by Mongoose772
                          Yes, his prose is inflammatory, but there is a significant amount of truth in what he writes.
                          Well-formed post, Mongoose.
                          That perhaps deserved to be said
                          BUT spouting facts alone, doesn't mean it naturally supports the argument. Thats the oldest jounalistic trick in the book. (I summize you recognize that)

                          Is 'hero' overused? oh ya, we all seem to agree.

                          But his attacking the profession to correct the masses (and MEDIA's) overuse of 'hero'? to what end?

                          Where does one start..
                          Rediculous how he comdemes us as adrenelin junkies, from someone who makes his living catering to slobs who sit on the couch all weekend watching sport's 'adrenelin junkies' and overpaid premadonnas.

                          He confuses motivation, brotherhood and desire to get home in one piece as misguided junkyism. One would think a sports guy would understand comraderie... implies he's an angry loner who's never gotten his heart rate up.

                          How we honor our losses is not his to judge. He can stay home and watch footbal reruns in his underwear; stay home.

                          He's obviously not a 'doer'. Lets hope he writes more crap like that, and lets the world form their opinion of the author.

                          Is the pagentry overdone sometimes? sure, I think it could get toned down sometimes. If we look rediculous in the eyes of jealous loosers, who cares.
                          Last edited by permaprobie; 11-02-2003, 08:34 AM.
                          "I am permaprobie, and I approve this message."

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            New York firefighters, admittedly deep in grief over lost co-workers, exacerbated the challenge of body recovery operations after 9/11 by insisting on elaborate removal procedures for each firefighter uncovered, an insult to others who died there.
                            WRONG and NOT TRUE.
                            While yes we lost members and we did carry them out with Honor we also did the same for ALL innocent victims murdered on 9-11-01. When we could tell the remains were a civilian the Construction Workers carry them out with full honors. Just as a Firefighter or Police Officer.

                            I do agree with him with this comment. "But let's save the encomiums for when they are truly deserved, not when they just show up to do their job."

                            But I also believe in this comment... "A man's greatest act of bravery is becoming a Fireman. Everything else is in the Line of Duty."

                            Chief Croker, FDNY 1906
                            Last edited by E40FDNYL35; 11-02-2003, 05:38 PM.
                            ALL GAVE SOME BUT SOME GAVE ALL
                            NEVER FORGET 9-11-01
                            343
                            CAPT. Frank Callahan Ladder 35 *
                            LT. John Ginley Engine 40
                            FF. Bruce Gary Engine 40
                            FF. Jimmy Giberson Ladder 35
                            FF. Michael Otten Ladder 35 *
                            FF. Steve Mercado Engine 40 *
                            FF. Kevin Bracken Engine 40 *
                            FF. Vincent Morello Ladder 35
                            FF. Michael Roberts Ladder 35 *
                            FF. Michael Lynch Engine 40
                            FF. Michael Dauria Engine 40

                            Charleston 9
                            "If my job was easy a cop would be doing it."
                            *******************CLICK HERE*****************

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Re: Freedom of Speech Doesn't Cover Stupidity

                              Originally posted by LRFireE135
                              Freedom of Speech shall only go as far as this MUTT'S rope shall hang!

                              Freedom of Speech doesn't cover LIBEL!!!

                              WHAT A MUTT!!! MAN AM I FUMING!!!

                              I WROTE HIM ONE HELLUVA NASTY LETTER, MOST LIKELY NOT HIS FIRST FROM ONE OF US, WHICH I POSTED ON THE OTHER THREAD ON THIS TOPIC (bashing the brotherhood)!!!

                              Anyone have access to a MUTT HUNTER?

                              WHERE'S CAPTAIN GONZO & THE IACOJ WHEN YA REALLY NEED EM?!?!

                              (Maybe I just didn't read up far enough...)

                              Anyway...Stay Safe Brothers & Sisters!!!
                              The bottom line is that this guy has an absolute right to publish a document that freely expresses his opinion. His article didn't slander or libel anyone. Libel doesn't occur just because someone prints something controversial or unpopular. Many people have died defending this freedom that is the foundation of our free society.

                              One also has the freedom to post here, whether it be a rational response to the issue or a childish rant with no point whatsoever. That is the beauty of a free society.

                              God Bless America.
                              PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                I couldn't let it go without comment.....MUTT

                                I read with horror how easily Dougie boy maligned my profession and issulted my brothers. You can ask any firefighter this question, any one and you'll get the same answer:

                                Are you a hero? Nope, just doing my job.

                                So why does Dougie boy feel it is necessary to point his sharp stick at a group of professionals, both pain and volunteer, that for the most part are underappreciated and underfunded. Jealousy maybe, or cluelessness.

                                Sure we have a great work schedule, but we still work more than 40 hours a week. It not like we have some special hours or something. And thank goodness that there aren't more true emergencies. You see most places are understaffed, and have a hard time dealing with the calls they have. Perhaps Doug would rather there were even less Firefighters, so their lives could be put in even greater danger doing what is already a difficult job.

                                As for the Stations tours, EMS, and search and rescue comment. Well the last time I checked, those were all in my job description. Perhaps before he put pen to paper he should have done a little research. Maybe even gone to a Fire Station.

                                Everytime there is a major emergency or crisis, firefighters go to the top of the heap. We are lauded for doing what we call routine, and in the end, all the promises fall through, and we end up right where we were to being with. That fine, don't call us heros......we never thought we were in the first place.

                                Comment

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