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Questions for PIOs

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  • Questions for PIOs

    I read the news story regarding the line of duty death of Firefighter Shane Daughtee and I was struck, by many things, but for this, the inconsistancies in the article. I've seen it before in other stories regarding the fireground, and I wonder if any public information officers have ever tried to have a news story, especially in print, corrected? I believe that any spokesperson for a department involved in the death of a member has much more to be concerned with, so I'm not specifically raising issue with these departments and media, but speaking about fireground news in general. My thoughts and prayers are with the family and members.

    "Firefigter Daughtee was trying to rescue a family, including the parents and child, when he fell two stories through the roof."

    "Amy Maxwell of Hamilton County Emergency Management said firefighter Daughtee fell through the floor and into the basement."

    I believe the later is the correct statement?

    "The Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived on the scene confirming a fully involved house fire. The firefighters conducted an immediate search and rescue operation inside the home."

    Fully involved?
    "If you put the fire out right in the first place, you won't have to jump out the window."
    Andy Fredericks,
    FDNY E.48, SQ.18
    Alexandria, VA F.D.

    Rest in Peace

  • #2
    As a former PIO, I can tell you that the media gets there information from many sources, both official and unofficial. This includes official spokesman, firefighters, civilains who "were here when it first started" and what they may have heard on the scanner while enroute.

    If someone reported fully envolved on the radio, guess what the media is going to use. How many times has the first unit in reported "fully envolved" when there is only fire out of the front windows? It's possible a firefighter told the media that (in his perception) "the house was fully envolved when we got here". Or maybe a civilain told him that. Again ... many sources and often times, many of them wrong.

    Remember the media re not firefighters. Use technical talk and you'll lose them, and then they'll often try to fill in the blanks themselves.

    More than once what I said didn't come out that way in print. It happens.
    Train to fight the fires you fight.


    • #3
      I would highly doubt that a small VFD would have anyone performing the duties of a PIO. In the case of our departed Brother SDhane Daughtee, I am sure that the IC had a lot on his mind and had more important things to dothan rttaslk to the media.

      As my FD's PIO, I always issue a press release for major incidents. When called by the media, I tell them that a press release is forthcoming... then I will answer their phone calls.

      If the incident is an ongoing one, I will brief the media "en masse" thereby keeping one account of the incident consistent instead of being approached by each reporter and risk saying something different.

      It is up to the Chiefs to issue a standard operating procedure for speaking with the media before something tragic happens.
      Last edited by DeputyChiefGonzo; 01-26-2007, 10:55 PM.
      ‎"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


      • #4
        The statement that he fell through the floor and into the basement is the correct one. I wasn't there (standby at my station), but my Battalion Chief was there for mutual aid. The basement was so full of smoke that he couldn't find the attic ladder that had been dropped down the hole.


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