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  • #16
    I am pretty optimistic, generally speaking, so don't dismiss me as a conspiracy theorist. Thinking about this scares me a bit, especially what this does to issues of inter-department trust. Stay with me here, folks.

    How vulnerable are we as fire service personnel to this kind of destruction/sabotage? How alert do we have to be of our fellow FF's and their behavior? I fully recognize that the men and women involved in the fire service are -- with the exception of one in a ten-thousand -- decent, honest and brave people. I respect firefighters, plain and simple.

    Still, there are members of every fire department that seem a little too excited by fire -- "glory hounds" as they have been aptly described. They have been members of every department that I have been a member of, and I know that they are everywhere. These people scare me. Despite the slim odds of something like this arson ring happening to me, in light of these arsonist FF's, I think I will have to be a bit more hesitant to put my full confidence in my fellow FF's.

    This hesitancy may seem ridiculous to other people; yeah some might say that I am overreacting. Most will say that we need to trust in spite of this event, or we will all be in trouble. This is a fair enough warning.
    Still, I bet that the members of the fire company that these two would-be-killers ran with would never have suspected them either. I guarantee that before this story broke they would have said that a lack of confidence was dangerous among FF's. I guess trust can be dangerous too.

    Watch your backs everyone. Help keep the fire service as safe as possible.

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    • #17
      I can't cite a specific case of a paid FF/arsonist, but Tulsa recently fired an 18 year police officer for running drugs. And he went through multiple background checks/polygraphs/psych exams, etc.

      I'm with all the "there's bad apples in every barrel" bunch.

      I think the "firesetter"/firefighter connection is partly this. There are arsonists who are "torches" (set fires to destroy, to get revenge, to get insurance?, etc.) and there are arsonists that would more correctly be termed pyromaniacs. They don't want to do the arsonist things, they just want to "see" a fire. They join vollie fire depts because they get early "notice" of working fires, and get to "go see the fire" for free. But joining a paid dept. is too much work (especially since they don't really want to "fight" fire, they just want to "see" it).

      Their disturbed minds (they have to be disturbed to be able to justify destroying another's property, right?) are "normal" to themselves, so they can frequently beat psych exams and polygraphs, so that isn't (necessarily) the answer, or the reason why they aren't found as often on paid depts.

      Note that to fit this profile, they may not be the "heroes" that Althea mentioned. They're just as likely to hang back - wanting to watch rather than fight. Or they may be "nozzlehogs", but just because they want to get closer, to get a better look.

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      • #18
        FF Trainer:

        I come from a Vol. dept. in North Carolina. What I ment by that comment was that with shortages of manpower and resources it becomes increasingly difficult to turn down help. And to find out the helps true intentions.

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        • #19
          I myself being formally from Iredell County although it was the opposite ends of the county, I had the opportunity to train with some of the older members of Union Grove VFD. And they were about as nice as anybody you could ever meet. Their Chief is or at least was an Iredell County deputy so those guys will get theirs if he has any say in it.
          I just feel so bad for the long time members of the dept. As they are such good people as we say around here. My hat is off to the members of Union Grove Fire Department that you will pull through this and become even stronger.

          ------------------
          SBrumley
          Captain WRVFD

          [This message has been edited by scottbcptwr (edited 03-16-2001).]

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          • #20
            Career Arsonists - Early 80's (forgive me some of the details - my memory is hazy), Glendale (CA) FD (again I believe). Well respected FF/arson investigator set fires all up and down the state of CA. Set many large/serious fires. Not sure if there were any deaths but there were injuries. He was caught when someone put together the fact that the fires were along the travel route to/from various arson/investigation conferences. It was eventually narrowed to his being the only common person at a large # of events. He was convicted.

            Don't kid yourselves - these issues/problems having nothing to do with someone drawing a paycheck or not. No screening system will ever be perfect.

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            • #21
              1627 -- Thanks for the reply.

              It get's under my skin a bit when people seem to want to add fuel to the vol/career battle. I was kind of hoping I took your post wrong and you that that wasn't your intentions and apparently I did!

              Stay safe!

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              • #22
                In NJ, psych testing is mandatory for career fire fighters. Polygraph is illegal in NJ for employment purposes, but not in all states.

                An imperfect screening system is miles ahead of the non-existent screening system that most vol. depts have in place.

                And recruiting difficulties are not a reason not to hold these people to a high standard.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by RWK:
                  Career Arsonists - Early 80's (forgive me some of the details - my memory is hazy), Glendale (CA) FD (again I believe). Well respected FF/arson investigator set fires all up and down the state of CA. Set many large/serious fires. Not sure if there were any deaths but there were injuries. He was caught when someone put together the fact that the fires were along the travel route to/from various arson/investigation conferences. It was eventually narrowed to his being the only common person at a large # of events. He was convicted.

                  Don't kid yourselves - these issues/problems having nothing to do with someone drawing a paycheck or not. No screening system will ever be perfect.
                  Was that the guy in the fabric stores? I think I remember hearing about that from an older firefighter.

                  As for my previous post about "heros"--most of the time they're only heros in their own heads. They'll make it up from things as simple as trampling a spark out. I think it needed some clarification.

                  Althea

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                  • #24
                    I think volunteer departments should severely restrict activities of new firefighters (especially those from 18 to 21 years old) until the senior members can form opinions of their intentions. Paid departments should have mechanisms in place to weed out problem applicants. Bad apples are still going to get into the fire service, as they do in any other profession. We just have to learn to identify them, and then do the right thing.

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                    • #25
                      My personal feeling on this issue is that we as firefighters know our fellow firefighters best and we MUST police our own. There's absolutely no way I will accept that there wasn't a single firefighter on the dept in question that didn't have a suspicion or two about the culprits, one that regrets not having spoken up earlier. Also, as firefighters we should be held to a higher standard because we carry the public's trust. There should be FAR stiffer penalties for "firefighter arson" as opposed to your regular civilian firestarter.

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                      • #26
                        string em up

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                        • #27
                          I agree with engine 522. The discipline of any firefighter fire setter should be more strict than that for a civilian.
                          Most of our societies problems with crime as a whole come from the lack of proper punishment and sentencing where applicable. Thank you ACLU.
                          I feel that psych screening should be done for volunteers as well as in-depth background checks. The volunteer companies I've been associated have had very lenient screening policies,because of their need for bodies to fill the ranks. Some of those members, however, had spotty backgrounds. These people are who you are forced to trust, at all hours of the daywhen on calls, to do what is correct. I submit that many people who are high risk would be weeded out via appropriate screening policies.
                          There is a very large percentage differential between the numbers of firesetters who are volunteer and those who are career. I would attribute this to the screening. Nationwide, however, the screening policies are varying as well and therefore some jurisdictions fall victim to these inconsistencies.
                          Just my 0.02.

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                          • #28
                            anyone who would put brothers at risk i have only six words for them..............

                            GET THE ROPE, FIND A TREE

                            ------------------
                            ...fire fetish???......
                            ...damn right!!!!

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