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  1. #1
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    Default Hazing in Houston

    HOUSTON --

    Several videos shot inside Houston fire stations appear to show a violation of the department's no-hazing policy, KPRC Local 2 reported Sunday.

    The videos are circulating on the Internet. Some show rookies being drenched with water inside fire stations. One shows a rookie trying to hold a spoonful of cinnamon in his mouth. Another one shows a spinning chair powered by two air tanks. The firefighter eventually gets up and smiles.

    The president of Houston's Black Firefighters Association said rookies of all races are getting hazed because of a "don't tell" culture throughout the department.

    "If you don't want to play, you're out and not going to fit in," Otis Jordan said. "The crews are going to turn on you because you don't want to put up with this. You won't be able to work at (Fire Station) 68."

    Three of the four videos came from Station 68 in southwest Houston.

    Jordan said he believes a "don't tell" culture contributed to recent sexist and racist graffiti being scrawled inside the living quarters of two female firefighters.

    A fire department spokesperson said that if the anti-hazing policy is being broken, someone should report it. The department planned to look at the videos Monday.

    ================================================== ===========

    First of all let me say that Houston needs a break from all the media attention they have been getting lately. I feel your pain and you need time to be left alone.

    Second, in my opinion, this video of water being splashed on probies is not a big deal. What is the harm in those station pranks? C'mon people, we need to relax a bit. Sure, the spinning chair could get someone hurt so I say no on that one. But so what if someone gets wet? The pole would be wet the guy says. So you clean it up after you are done, what's the big deal?

    Now understand I don't agree with any physical abuse or something that would do any harm to the person or damage to any equipment. I think society is getting to be too much PC.

    What do you think?
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    Dickey... I agree.
    ‎"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

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    Here's the big deal...

    Discipline.

    If the FD has a rule againt ANYTHING, it is a rule that must be obeyed. It doesn't matter what it is. The rules are there to be obeyed. Period. The FD is a paramilitary organization. If you don't like it, don't join.

    All other discussion about any -ism starts there.
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Houston certainly has had plenty of bad press.

    The video, and the hazing depicted in it is really no big deal, in my opinion. It certainly is nothing that hasn't been done to me and many others in my department, even as recently as my last shift.

    Well, at least with one exception. The HFD apparently has a written policy against hazing, and George is right, that makes it a rules violation.
    Lawful orders and policies handed down in a para-military organization means that those orders and policies are to be followed, and discipline follows if you do not, especially when you record those rules violations and publish them on the internet.

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    May this be a lesson to all. Harmless videos put online came back to bite them in the ***. Don't forget it.

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    How many years on a department before it becomes a practical joke and not hazing?

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    I have always told my folks that hazing will get you fired. Throwing water as long as its on the apparatus floor or where noting gets soaked or ruined is OK, as long as everyone smiles and takes it easy and not get PO'ed. Once someone gets PO'ed and complains it will stop and folks get talked to.

    If by chance some yerkle shoots video and put it up on youtube or were its all over the cyber world, that is crossing the fine line from being professional and being a butthead! Damage to the department has already occured.

    The best policy if the department has a rule against it, then the members must abide by the rules or be dealt with.

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    I have read more about the Houston FD in the last 8 months or so than any other department. Sounds like there might be some discipline issues as well as this is our official policy but this is what happens. It might be a little water, but it is against department policy and shows a total lack of respect. A mouthful of cinnamon, spinning chair, and who knows what else. I disagree with leave them alone. Perhaps they need to get their act together.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptainGonzo View Post
    Dickey... I agree.
    And now I know I am right

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    Strawbrains... you have never been right... a stopped clock has been right more often than you ever have been.
    ‎"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

  11. #11
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    Lets get one thing straight, unless you are or have been a career firefighter, you won't have a clue on what goes on in a firehouse. And yes, I said firehouse. We live there 24 hours a day, for a third of our life, if you think that there isn't going to be practical jokes and some rough housing, you are goofy.
    So really, was it hazing or the group blowing of steam, or one of a hundred practical jokes out there? Was it derogatory? Was it forced? Was it violence directed towards an individual?
    Of course it's the rookies, everybody else has seen the same old joke a hundred times.
    If it's true hazing, deal with it. But don't try and blow it out of proportion.
    My posts reflect my views and opinions, not the organization I work for or my IAFF local. Some of which they may not agree. I.A.C.O.J. member
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    I just looked at Youtube and there are dozens of firemen pranks on there. Some are completly innocent some not so, but that is the culture of the fireservice, we depend on each other for more then a paycheck, we depend on each other for our very lives. Yes sometimes little firehouse pranks turn into hazing or more.
    Teach our officers about genuine discrimination and harassment. Just today we were at a concrete cutting drill, one of the guys from my house got wet while I was using the saw, he asked to cut from the other side, when I turned around the water from the ring saw got him real wet. I have no doubt he'll get me back 10 fold. It could be flour in my locker, could be hot peppers in my burrito at lunch, I may get real wet sometime during the day, the point is we are a brotherhood and that stuff happens in any family.
    Houston's administration needs to tell the lawyers where to go and grow a pair.

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    Its all fun and games till somebody records it or takes pictures.

    It really is sad that this is even an issue.

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    If you're going to horse and joke around, don't be so dumb as to record it, and by no means post it where someone can get a hold of it (internet or department computer).

    We (the fire service) used to get by with some fun (not hazing, but water fights, burning newspaper under the stall, crap like that) because every swinging &*%$ didn't have a cell phone with a built-in camcorder. You'd think our brothers would figure this out at some point.

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    If there's a rule, then be prepared for the punishment.

    Sucks, but that's the breaks.
    I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

    "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

    "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

  16. #16
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    I am really conflicted on this issue. It just isn't that black and white to me.

    I can see from the admin. side that if there is a rule, I can understand that it be enforced but where in the rules does it define "hazing" and "practical jokes?"

    I would not call this hazing, this is a practical joke. If there is a rule and it has to be enforced, then what I would do is call them all in the day room, or wherever and talk to them all as company to say it ends and be done with it, not make it a such a big deal and for God sakes not put anything in any damn file or in writing for discipline. If it keeps going, then ok, move to the next step in progressive discipline.

    Personally, I would say first of all there is no videotaping anything! Then lay the ground rules of what is ok and what isn't ok for practical jokes. It is a family and you do live there for 1/3 of the time. You cannot expect people not to goof off now and again. If you don't let them blow off some steam...who knows what kinds of stress related problems you might have. People want a CISD for any "major" event but there is nothing to deal with getting up 8 times a night either. The station bantering and the pranks relieve some of that tension. No one else understands what it's like but your brothers and sisters in the job.

    Keep your chin up Houston, it's gotta get better!
    Last edited by Dickey; 07-13-2009 at 08:17 PM.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona, WI

    IACOJ - Director of Cheese and Whine
    http://www.cheddarvision.tv/
    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

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    The reality is that we are judged by the pubic's perception of our actions whether it be at the station, off-duty in a fire department t-shirt, or at an emergency scene. Bear in mind that the basis for their perception rarely has anything to do with OUR perception of what we are doing.

    For example, a viewer of the Houston news channel mentioned in this thread could certainly get the idea the a "rookie" firefighter was being picked on if he or she had no idea what goes on inside and outside the fire station. Likewise, a citizen could get very angry when we don't pull up at their doorstep and sprint as fast as we can into their house to check on grandma's chronic back pain that she called 911 for. Remember Johnny and Roy running everywhere carrying every piece of equipment they possibly could? It's all about perception.

    A story can be made or found anywhere. Perception is the basis for the "framework" of the story. The difference can be seen with the "cinnamon dragon"... it can either be a story about a bunch of goofball firefighters filming themselves trying to eat cinnamon OR it can be a "look what those veteran firefighters made the rookie firefighter do! That is horrible!"
    rjtoc2

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    Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof, and make counter accusations.

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    When all is said and done, alot more is said than done

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    Quote Originally Posted by rjtoc2 View Post
    The reality is that we are judged by the pubic's perception of our actions whether it be at the station, off-duty in a fire department t-shirt, or at an emergency scene. Bear in mind that the basis for their perception rarely has anything to do with OUR perception of what we are doing.

    For example, a viewer of the Houston news channel mentioned in this thread could certainly get the idea the a "rookie" firefighter was being picked on if he or she had no idea what goes on inside and outside the fire station. Likewise, a citizen could get very angry when we don't pull up at their doorstep and sprint as fast as we can into their house to check on grandma's chronic back pain that she called 911 for. Remember Johnny and Roy running everywhere carrying every piece of equipment they possibly could? It's all about perception.

    A story can be made or found anywhere. Perception is the basis for the "framework" of the story. The difference can be seen with the "cinnamon dragon"... it can either be a story about a bunch of goofball firefighters filming themselves trying to eat cinnamon OR it can be a "look what those veteran firefighters made the rookie firefighter do! That is horrible!"
    Agreed. No FF was interviewed, the faces were blurred. This is just the publics perception of something most never see, the inside of a firehouse. Too bad it was Houston but if anyone deserves a pass for the pranks, it's them.
    The writing on the walls, well that's another matter that got tied into this one. Who knows, the "News Team" could have been holding that story for a long time.
    I'll wait for an HFD brother to hear the real story.
    IAFF

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    Quote Originally Posted by snowball View Post
    I'll wait for an HFD brother to hear the real story.

    I would like to see what the general feelings of the HFD people are as well.

    You are right, the racial graffiti is not cool either.
    Jason Knecht
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    Altoona Fire Dept.
    Altoona, WI

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    EAT CHEESE OR DIE!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    ...another one shows a spinning chair powered by two air tanks.
    Why didn't I think of that?
    rjtoc2

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    ***The above post (s) is/are MY opinion and do/does not necessarily reflect the views, positions, or opinions of neither my employer nor my IAFF Local.***

    Admit nothing, deny everything, demand proof, and make counter accusations.

    A lack of planning on your behalf does NOT create an emergency on my behalf.

    When all is said and done, alot more is said than done

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dickey View Post
    I am really conflicted on this issue. It just isn't that black and white to me.

    I can see from the admin. side that if there is a rule, I can understand that it be enforced but where in the rules does it define "hazing" and "practical jokes?"
    Exactly! Where is the line between hazing, practical joke or just plain goofing around?

    Some of this brings to mind news stories I've read/seen recently. A teen gets suspended or expelled for giving another student an aspirin (or tylenol) because of their ultra-strict drug policy calling it "drug distribution". An elementary school kid gets sent home (and disciplined) for having a small plastic sword with his Halloween costume (he was a Knight or something along those lines) under their ultra-strict "no weapons" policy.

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    Too bad it was Houston but if anyone deserves a pass for the pranks, it's them.
    Why????????????
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Racial graffiti is beyond "not cool". It is hate speech. It is intimidation. It quite possibly is a hate crime.

    I think anyone with a brain the size of a pea can see the difference between hazing (where if you do not go along, you are not part of the group) and a practical joke. Or am I wrong?
    PROUD, HONORED AND HUMBLED RECIPIENT OF THE PURPLE HYDRANT AWARD - 10/2007.

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    Is it just me, or do video cameras subtract 50% from the IQ of everyone within a 25' radius?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SPFDRum View Post
    Lets get one thing straight, unless you are or have been a career firefighter, you won't have a clue on what goes on in a firehouse. And yes, I said firehouse. We live there 24 hours a day, for a third of our life, if you think that there isn't going to be practical jokes and some rough housing, you are goofy.
    So really, was it hazing or the group blowing of steam, or one of a hundred practical jokes out there? Was it derogatory? Was it forced? Was it violence directed towards an individual?
    Of course it's the rookies, everybody else has seen the same old joke a hundred times.
    If it's true hazing, deal with it. But don't try and blow it out of proportion.
    I spend a third of my life in the workplace as well. We have no tom foolery our pranks. We work in a professional setting and as such we must look and act professional at all times. There is no room for school yard pranks

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