Author Topic: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.  (Read 7359 times)

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Offline Griffith

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #50 on: October 14, 2010, 10:33:55 PM »
Speaking of morality and the occupation concerned with it, what about officers/ troops in the army who have to kill innocent people for a few bad guys or have to pull out of an ambush where they have bad guys pinned down because they were ordered to/ not to. We all know what happens to people in the army who disobey the order (A Few Good Men).

Well, it's obviously much different when aggressive firemen disregard procedure and orders, but then there's rogue firefighters to worry about (Backdraft)! Just kidding, I wouldn't put too much stock or effort into examples from movies, but in any case, I don't think killing people compares well to putting out fires. "Oh my God, you put out the wrong fire, it was one of ours, what are we going to tell its family?"

I also know that it's wrong that the firemen didn't stop the fire when it was in front of them, but it's never that easy now is it. If you're a small player in the big scheme of things and we're talking about what a higher up's call is or whether your actions would embarrass the fire department, etc. and of course the thought of losing your job that supports a family, things can go sticky. The system is flawed no doubt.

I think everyone understands the bureaucratic consequences in play, but they're extreme and unlikely in this academic scenario, and weighed against the immediate consequences of a fire burning down one's home right in front of you, what do you really think is the prudent thing to do? If you do nothing, the home will definitely burn, and you may or may not get in trouble later. If you put out the fire, you could save the home, and you may or may not get in trouble later. Not a tough a choice, and maybe not a choice at all since you could argue either which would more likely get you fired. Scapegoating goes both ways, and an order can suddenly be misunderstood after the fact. What's more likely to get you fired anyway, an internal departmental issue among colleagues, or something on the front page of the paper where politicians at all levels start getting involved? From a purely selfish standpoint, I'd take my chances with the high ground of doing the right thing and putting out the fire instead of being that asshole whose head roles anyway for trying to cover their ass.

Speaking of 'what ifs', what if a morally right fireman did go all gung-ho to stop the fire and died, would the department refrain from giving his family monetary compensation from the state because he violated a direct order? I think they would.

Apparently someone going in and dying wasn't even a possibility, and even if that were the case, it's another example of where common sense and human intervention should correct a flawed bureaucratic apparatus. When everyone just shrugs their shoulders in situations like this, mankind devolves just a little bit, that's why it's nice to hear that reaction from firefighters. Speaking of what if scenarios, what if a fireman put the fire out and nobody gave a shit, particularly those in the business of fighting fires. Occam's razor likes that one.

Anyway, the mistake here isn't about the technicalities and possible consequences, but the probabilities and overemphasis on the worst case scenario; if every decision hinged upon that standard, nobody could rightfully do anything, or conversely, one could use that rationalization to justify anything, from watching houses burn down to war crimes.
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Offline Aphasia

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #51 on: October 14, 2010, 11:22:00 PM »
Wow, this is some quote battle we have on our hands.  It's interesting to read about it straight from the horses mouth.  From my understanding, it sounds like they could have put the fire out with little or no repercussions.  Even if there were some, it wouldn't have led to them getting fired.  It really sounds like it's a problem with the politics in that town. 

They need fixing, for sure.  But It wouldn't have hurt anyone to put the fire out.  On the other hand, I think it's terrible that people are attacking the firemen and belittling them to the point of sending death threats.  There are some obvious things wrong here, but man do people get their panties in a bunch.

Offline Ramen4ever

Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #52 on: October 14, 2010, 11:49:07 PM »
Speaking of morality and the occupation concerned with it, what about officers/ troops in the army who have to kill innocent people for a few bad guys or have to pull out of an ambush where they have bad guys pinned down because they were ordered to/ not to. We all know what happens to people in the army who disobey the order (A Few Good Men). I also know that it's wrong that the firemen didn't stop the fire when it was in front of them, but it's never that easy now is it. If you're a small player in the big scheme of things and we're talking about what a higher up's call is or whether your actions would embarrass the fire department, etc. and of course the thought of losing your job that supports a family, things can go sticky. The system is flawed no doubt. Speaking of 'what ifs', what if a morally right fireman did go all gung-ho to stop the fire and died, would the department refrain from giving his family monetary compensation from the state because he violated a direct order? I think they would.

The military isn't a good next step on the spectrum, imho, if you want a reasonable comparison. Instead look at another emergency response group: the police.
I think that's were it becomes the most fuzzy. Since with the police, it's not a guarantee that the person they apprehended is actually guilty, bad ,whatever. There are cases were they apprehend a suspect who resists arrest, for one reason or another. The police do what their training has taught them. If that means using a taser or a gun, then that's what they use. But what if the individual dies from a shock induced cardiac arrest? Or the bullet hits the suspect in a vital area, and he dies.

If that happens, the officer that fired the taser/gun will have murdered an innocent individual. the resisting arrest part becomes irrelevant as it can stem from anything, some people breaking down your door at 3 am. You don't know who they are, maybe you can't understand their words since it's multiple people yelling at the same time. You stand up as a reaction, they see it as resisting arrest because they've been yelling at you to stay on the ground. You get shocked or shot and you happen to die.

In such a situation, is the officer at fault for following orders and his/her training? The end result is a dead individual. But ultimately it was the officer's actions, in those split second decisions it might mean killing a suspect because you "thought" something. Or it might mean not reacting fast enough and getting shot in the face by a criminal at a routine stop. The usual media reaction to when someone dies during an arrest or during the apprehension of a suspect, is that it was excessive force. And at times it is. At other times, the lack of force gets an (or multiple) officers killed. which is also known to happen.

these systems are iffy at best. It's like balancing morality on the edge of a knife in tandem with duty and a host of other things.


Offline Griffith

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #53 on: October 15, 2010, 12:47:49 AM »
It's interesting to read about it straight from the horses mouth.  From my understanding, it sounds like they could have put the fire out with little or no repercussions.  Even if there were some, it wouldn't have led to them getting fired.  It really sounds like it's a problem with the politics in that town.  

They need fixing, for sure.  But It wouldn't have hurt anyone to put the fire out.  On the other hand, I think it's terrible that people are attacking the firemen and belittling them to the point of sending death threats.  There are some obvious things wrong here, but man do people get their panties in a bunch.

Of course. You'd think all this would be obvious, it's just a matter of common sense and decency on everyone's part. Has anyone here read Les MisÚrables?

The military isn't a good next step on the spectrum, imho, if you want a reasonable comparison. Instead look at another emergency response group: the police.

I agree, but I still don't think the decision whether to kill someone or not is a fair comparison to putting out a fire (unless it's keeping a freezing person alive =). I think a better Police example would be the liability of an off-duty officer to serve and protect, or for a doctor to assist people. As a matter of fact, remember the EMTs that were on break and refused to help a dying pregnant woman? Not unlike the idea of firemen refusing to put out a fire. BTW, passiveness didn't work out so great for those EMTs, the female EMT was just charged in the case, and the only reason the other EMT wasn't is because... he's dead; shot and killed in an argument after failing to get into a club. Yikes.

I hope the argument wasn't on this same subject. =)
-Griffith

Offline Ramen4ever

Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #54 on: October 15, 2010, 02:56:13 AM »
I agree, but I still don't think the decision whether to kill someone or not is a fair comparison to putting out a fire (unless it's keeping a freezing person alive =). I think a better Police example would be the liability of an off-duty officer to serve and protect, or for a doctor to assist people. As a matter of fact, remember the EMTs that were on break and refused to help a dying pregnant woman? Not unlike the idea of firemen refusing to put out a fire. BTW, passiveness didn't work out so great for those EMTs, the female EMT was just charged in the case, and the only reason the other EMT wasn't is because... he's dead; shot and killed in an argument after failing to get into a club. Yikes.

I hope the argument wasn't on this same subject. =)

I'm a little confused. The Article calls them EMTs but the other article says that they were dispatchers. Still, a pretty interesting and provocative example.

Personally I think emergency personal should be ready to respond even if off-duty. It's not about being paid to do it. It's about being in a position to offer assistance. Even if they're off duty, they're still qualified. Heck, anyone with a shred of decency would at least try to help. If someone qualified isn't willing, they shouldn't be in that line of work to begin with.
And on a semi-related note. I personally know someone that had a run in with an off-duty cop. He was late to work so he was speeding down the street he lived, when he saw some guy in his pajamas waving at him like crazy. As it turns out, it was an off-duty police officer, and he got his plates. So he paid him a nice visit at work that day, with a shiny new speeding ticket of course.
-If a cop is willing to track someone they saw while off duty, down just to give them a speeding ticket. They may as well be willing to call for back up and offer whatever assistance they can in an actual emergency.

Offline Vampire_Hunter_Bob

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #55 on: October 15, 2010, 02:58:52 AM »
Personally I think emergency personal should be ready to respond even if off-duty. It's not about being paid to do it. It's about being in a position to offer assistance. Even if they're off duty, they're still qualified. Heck, anyone with a shred of decency would at least try to help. If someone qualified isn't willing, they shouldn't be in that line of work to begin with.

From my understanding this is the case for most major cities. Like it's a requirement for an off-duty police officer to be armed at all times.

Offline Griffith

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #56 on: October 15, 2010, 03:57:45 AM »
I'm a little confused. The Article calls them EMTs but the other article says that they were dispatchers. Still, a pretty interesting and provocative example.

Yeah, I think that was the intention, the articles refer to them almost exclusively as EMTs with no denials or later retractions, it's only the statement from their union that cryptically said they were working as dispatchers at the time, which strikes me as a rather slippery statement from a group meant to protect them (if they simply weren't qualified to help, then they would have most certainly said so in the same statement). It's almost like saying I'm police officer, but I was working traffic at the time I saw a murder in progress, so naturally I didn't do anything.
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Offline Ramen4ever

Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #57 on: October 15, 2010, 04:31:00 AM »
Yeah, I think that was the intention, the articles refer to them almost exclusively as EMTs with no denials or later retractions, it's only the statement from their union that cryptically said they were working as dispatchers at the time, which strikes me as a rather slippery statement from a group meant to protect them (if they simply weren't qualified to help, then they would have most certainly said so in the same statement). It's almost like saying I'm police officer, but I was working traffic at the time I saw a murder in progress, so naturally I didn't do anything.

At first I was gonna say that may not be a very good comparison. As a dispatcher is basically only involved with telecommunications, they don't become a Doctor or Surgeon on Fridays lol. while an Officer is still an officer, regardless of their current assignment. I thought it would be like comparing a hospital receptionist to a doctor, just because they both work in the same hospital. However it's actually got some backing; http://www.torontoems.ca/main-site/careers/dispatch-responsibilities.html
Quote
1. Must possess current certification in CPR and First Aid training and maintain same throughout employment with Emergency Medical Services.
2. Experience and/or education required in public safety/health related fields, including but not limited to EMS, Police, and Fire Communications, Para medicine, Nursing, Air Traffic Control, Telecommunications student.
It looks like at least in Toronto, even a dispatcher has to have quite a bit of medical understanding. They need to be able to walk someone through pre-ambulance care of a patient. CPR, Basic first-aid. Possibly Nursing and Para-medicine courses. (don't really know what the latter is)
By all rights, even if they were only dispatchers, they probably should have known more about what to do in that situation than anyone else present.

No excuses for them, Dispatchers or EMTs, either way they fucked up bad.

Offline Aazealh

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #58 on: October 15, 2010, 06:57:08 AM »
Qualified is qualified. It means that they are fully capable and ready to take on the job at hand. That likely includes those with experience. As for the quote, it's saying that there's stiff competition even after those eliminations.

Dude I told you to read what you quote carefully. It doesn't mention stiff competition, it says "even though the written examination and physical requirements eliminate many applicants." Said applicants are "qualified" because they have high school degrees, that doesn't mean they're fit for the job, and certainly not that they're trained and ready to leap into action.

They're run by volunteers in small rural areas due to lack of funding to handle such large areas, not because there isn't lack of a demand for a job.

The point you miss is that volunteers have a real job on the side and that putting out a fire isn't going to result in the cataclysmic scenario of ruined life and starving children you've been so eager to push forward.

If you actually look around or go to that page Lithrael mentioned and read the comments, you'll see that not everyone 'knows it'.

Let's limit that to intelligent people then.

This doesn't sound like a man who truly thinks the city would have brushed all this off.

It sounds like a man rambling and pleading for a reform of the funding for fire departments, which is fine, but I don't find it too relevant to our discussion. In the end he says he'd have handled it differently, and that's all that matters.

I'll admit getting the streams crossed here. The fact still remains though: One job or them all, I don't see it as worth the sacrifice and they may not either.

That's not a fact, just a guess based on a hypothetical statement.

You're thinking too short term. By setting a precedent that the fire department will always be there to help you out fee or no fee if you can find a way to get them out to your property, you're actually insuring much more wasted resources in the long run. That's exactly why those mentioned fire departments are in such bad shape to begin with. They're stretched beyond their limits as is which is definitely leaving more problems for other people. This was in response to the challenge: "I'd like to know how it could be ethically better for a fireman not to put out a fire"

No, I'm not thinking "too short term" :schierke: and I also don't think you're "insuring much more wasted resources" by acting after having arrived at the place of an incident. I don't see any reason to think so actually. And that's also not the reason these fire departments are strapped for cash. They are because of crappy city management and stupid electoral policies that cater to idiots' uninformed opinions. Which is why such incidents should be (and are) used to point out how crazy it is to not fund a fire department.

My stance was/is that they should not be disciplined, nor laid off. It just went more in the direction of lost jobs.

Yeah well when you argue with me, please don't misrepresent my stance on the issue.

And now you're going to the opposite extreme. Be it a burger flipper or a fireman, you have a given set of guidelines to follow. You can challenge them if you want, but you do so at your own risk. I wouldn't expect a fireman to be held to any different standard than that of a burger flipper when it comes to their own personal decision about breaking the rules. Being punished for doing your job the way your employer set it out for you is outright madness.

I don't think I'm going to any extremes by flatly stating the truth. Kids still get fireman trucks as toys. It's a profession that our societies hold in high esteem. And it's a profession that requires a certain moral fiber, which isn't the case for most jobs. What do you think is in those written examinations that disqualify most people? Like I told you before, people don't become firefighters primarily to make money. You're not reasoning correctly here because it's just not a job like any other, but apparently you don't want to see that.

Actually, again, you might be surprised. An interesting quote showing another side to this

The person does say people should blame the "County Supervisors/Directors" so I don't really see how it disagrees with what you quoted? But the situation I described and what the person is addressing are different anyway.

Other interesting things: Cranick reported that it took 2 hours for the fire to reach his house and that it was started by his grandson lighting barrels of trash on fire on a windy day.

Yeah that was in the original article. But that's not really related to the talk anymore, since it's long moved from that particular story to a more theorical argument, as Griffith pointed out.

Speaking of morality and the occupation concerned with it, what about officers/ troops in the army who have to kill innocent people for a few bad guys

That's a warcrime. Now that's directly related to Griffith's example about nazis. I'm pretty sure a soldier has a duty to disobey wrong orders and report them to higher authorities, even if in real life it's never that simple. Seriously, that's really the perfect example of the kind of orders you ought to refuse no matter how you look at it. A Few Good Men is just a movie. See all the scandals caused by the current wars and all the soldiers who've been dishonorably discharged or even faced jail time for sometimes "merely" abusing and degrading prisoners.

From my understanding, it sounds like they could have put the fire out with little or no repercussions.  Even if there were some, it wouldn't have led to them getting fired.  It really sounds like it's a problem with the politics in that town.  

They need fixing, for sure.  But It wouldn't have hurt anyone to put the fire out.  On the other hand, I think it's terrible that people are attacking the firemen and belittling them to the point of sending death threats.  There are some obvious things wrong here, but man do people get their panties in a bunch.

Yeah that's about it, perfectly summed up. The death threats are appalling, but sadly not surprising given the setting.

By all rights, even if they were only dispatchers, they probably should have known more about what to do in that situation than anyone else present.

No excuses for them, Dispatchers or EMTs, either way they fucked up bad.

Goes back to what Griffith said a while back. At some point it goes beyond your job and into what any decent human being would do.

Offline Vampire_Hunter_Bob

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #59 on: October 15, 2010, 10:26:27 AM »
That's a warcrime. Now that's directly related to Griffith's example about nazis. I'm pretty sure a soldier has a duty to disobey wrong orders and report them to higher authorities, even if in real life it's never that simple.

Yep. It's your obligation to disobey an unlawful order.

Offline IncantatioN

Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #60 on: October 15, 2010, 12:50:26 PM »
I think Griffith's response (to me) pretty much sums it all for me at least. My example, I admit was not equally comparable, but it was just to show the chain of events or the direction a system was build on or to indicated a chain of command of sorts. Every person individually has different morals, many common, but driven to a corner there's a 50-50 probability that we'd all react the same way. That isn't debatable because it's different for different people, like one's taste in music for example. I agree with everyone's thoughts here who believe the system is wrong. Heh I used A Few Good Men, just to lighten things up in this serious discussion, and even though it's just Hollywood, at least it's a starting point for me. When I read the article, that movie came to mind real quick.
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Offline CowTip

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Re: Firefighters watch a house burn to the ground over a $75.00 fee.
« Reply #61 on: October 19, 2010, 07:47:09 PM »
I really have nothing more to comment on this topic and I retain my original stance, but I would like to say that I find my new title humorous despite its derogatory underpinnings.