It seems that every day that I check my email I hear about another Line of Duty Death (LODD) from the wildland firefighting world.
Everyone was made well aware of the 19 firefighters who were killed in the line of duty earlier this year, as it should be. This tragedy marks the greatest loss of personnel since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. What hasn't been heard of is that throughout this summer, one for the record books, firefighters have been suffering one of the worst summers in recent history. Only 9 months through the year and 2013 has claimed the lives of 75 firefighters, only eight short of last years 83 LODD. If we are to continue on that same average then we could expect to lose as many as 112 firefighters in the United States.
It seems to me that you only hear about a wildland fire death in the news if it occurred in an area very near you. This seems very wrong to me. To quote Stalin, "1 death is a tragedy, one million is a statistic." In this particular line of logic, we have a tragedy happening at least once a week in America. A tragedy involving a person who has dedicated their live to the protection of the life, property of everyone regardless of race, gender or social status.
The time is past due when we remember to recognize the men of the fire service in our everyday lives, not just when horrific events tremble the very identity of our country.
This is a good resource for just that, subscribe and remember who it is that comes running into your house when no one else will.
A Fire Lieutenant of Chapel Hill Fire Department is in the spotlight, in a way, for pulling over a woman who was obviously swerving and under the influence of alcohol. Courts are questioning whether or not this was an abuse of power in the official role of a firefighter.
The mission statement of CHFD is as follows
"The primary mission of
the Chapel Hill Fire Department is to protect life, property and the
community environment from the destructive effects of fire, disasters or
other life hazards by providing public education, incident prevention
and emergency response services."
Considering that the woman was found to have a blood alcohol content of .23 I think it is fair to assume that this was an incident waiting to happen. The reason that we have laws limiting the blood alcohol content in drivers is because of the direct correlation between intoxication and traffic incidents. I can't imagine that allowing this woman to continue driving would have been safe for the public of Chapel Hill. Might it have been prudent for the Lt. to have called for immediate police involvement? Yes, of course it would have. But is it not also possible that a woman who has habitually broken the law involving driving under the influence of alcohol was an immediate threat to public safety? I think that we can all agree that she in fact was.
I personally think that this could simply be considered incident management; but more importantly I think this firefighter absolutely did the right thing. As it is, just because you're right doesn't mean you're going to win in court, THAT is the sad truth of it.