Thread: Badges off-duty
03-18-2001, 09:36 AM #1cozmosisFirehouse.com Guest
During a recent firefighting class, I noticed several firefighters (paid & vollie) from a combination department in street clothes with badges on their belt (cop style). This wasn't the first time I'd seen this, but I'm yet to understand the practice.
The one decent thing about the group I'm talking about was that it was department issue badges they were wearing. I have seen folks wear those generic Gall's "volunteer firefighter" badges in the same manner. Does anyone else out there do this? Can anyone tell me why?
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03-18-2001, 12:21 PM #2RADFIREFirehouse.com Guest
My opinion is that it's vanity which compels someone to wear a badge in this manner. Police have to wear a badge to show their position, title of authority, or jurisdiction. Firefighters wear a badge on duty to achieve the same purpose. Off-duty to wear a badge seems frivolous. I take pride in my job, but when I'm not there I'm not on that job. As a volunteer I may wear the job shirt for the purpose of doing work at that location in a voluntary capacity. To have a badge beltclipped is too much. If someone says they wear the identification to differentiate themselves from other volunteers or for pride in their outfit. I would be compelled to say that you should be proud of your service record or company accomplishments, instead of a piece of tin. Doing the job correctly and achieving the best end result should be the motivation. Some people wear their badges to get out of tickets or to avoid summonses. To those people, the argument remains that unless you plan on wrongdoing of some sort the badge wearing is not pride. To serve ones community doesn't entitle one to be above the laws of tha communtiy or receive special treatment.
Just my 0.02.
03-18-2001, 12:29 PM #3BucksEng91Firehouse.com Guest
Police officers have a name for those kind of people...please don't shoot the messenger here, all those with sensitive ears...but they call them "cop fags". It's pretty obvious why.
Basically, they're wannabes. If you want to walk around with a badge on your belt, become a fire cop. Meantime, get outta my way.
The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone and may not reflect those of any organization with which I am associated.
03-18-2001, 03:56 PM #4Dalmatian90Firehouse.com Guest
By anyway do these people also drive around in vehicles which are worth less than the total number of emergency lights mounted to said vehicle?
It's vanity. Also looks silly to everyone else.
03-18-2001, 04:31 PM #5DED1645Firehouse.com Guest
That is something that the department should put a stop to. They are not thinking of if they are mistaken for an off duty police officer they are putting themselves in some serious risk. Local police in my area will tell firefighters and EMT's to take them off for that very reason. Now the second question is why? Are they intentionally trying to give people the impression that they are police officers. I really don't understand... Especially in plain clothes. Most police officers off duty don't advertise they are police officers and we have the means to defend themselves with firearms.
Barrington, New Jersey
Career or volunteer we are all brothers. Just feel good for the good you do for others.
03-18-2001, 08:33 PM #6CaptainCarpFirehouse.com Guest
I DON'T AGREE WITH THE PRACTICE OF WEARING THEM TO CLASSES AND THAT SORT OF THING, BUT IF A MEMBER WANTS TO WEAR THE BADGE WHEN THEY STOP TO HELP OUT OF THEIR DIST. THEN THEY SHOULD. THAT WAY THEY ARE NOT MISTAKEN FOR SOME JOE BLOW THAT IS GETTING IN THE WAY.
03-18-2001, 08:55 PM #7APG1Firehouse.com Guest
Our members are restricted from wearing any sort of identification in the form of badge, ID, etc while not on offical department business (T-Shirts etc aren't restricted).
On calls, we all wear large gold stars of life (most on the belt) or on chains around our neck so the cops know who we are.
03-18-2001, 11:43 PM #8FLAME5Firehouse.com Guest
I DISAGREE WITH THE HOLE BADGE WEARING OFF DUTY, ALONG WITH THE WEARING OF T-SHIRTS.
I FEEL TO MANY LIABILITY QUESTIONS ARISE.
NOW I AM NOT SAYING THESE PEOPLE ARE FANATICS OR ANYTHING (ILL SAVE THAT FOR THE GUYS WITH THE 911 STICKERS ON THE SIDES OF THEIR POV'S) BUT WE SHOULD BE A LITTLE MORE CAUTIOUS
03-19-2001, 09:35 AM #9LtStickFirehouse.com Guest
I don't think the wearing of badges with plane clothes is a good idea. Besides the fact that it may give the wrong idea who the person is it also looks terrible. They are not meant to be worn with plain clothes. They should either be kept on the uniform but, if they insist on having them with them for whatever reason then they should be kept in a wallet meant to hold them. I could see the need to carry them if they wanted to carry them so that if they were rendering aid to someone outside there area they could identify themselves as a Firefighter.
I don't see a problem with Firefighters wearing co t-shirts. A number of volunteer firefighters wear co T-shirts. Some departments even sell Co T-shirts and baseball hats at there carnivals and other events.
I definitely say keep the badges off street clothes.
03-19-2001, 09:41 AM #10dfcicFirehouse.com Guest
Unlike the other few forums that I've perused this morning, this one seems to have respect in mind -- no one is getting hypersensitive or combative, and it is quite refreshing.
BUT, could those of you writing in all CAPS please switch that off? Not to sound condascending, but that is the equivalent of yelling on the internet. It is really pretty distracting to look at. Don't worry, we'll read and weigh your opinions in lower-case as well!
03-19-2001, 10:45 AM #11Engine69Firehouse.com Guest
Being a full time cop and a volunteer firefighter, I can address both sides of this issue. I agree with the majority here. There is no sane reason to wear a badge on your belt when you are off duty.
The only time I do this as a police officer, is when I am wearing plain clothes with an exposed firearm. This is to help reduce the panic when I walk into the local 7-11 to get a pack of chewing gum. Normally, my off-duty weapon is concealed and so is my badge.
My biggest concern for firefighters wearing badges on their belts is mistaken identity. What do they think will happen if they wander into the 7-11 with their shiny badges on when an armed robbery is on progress? I doubt if many bad guys in desparate siturations are going to take the time to read the small print to find out that you are a firefighter and not a police officer. Never forget, that the badge is a symbol of authority... and authority is not what an armed robber wants to deal with.
Since we are talking about badges, what are your feelings on "flashing" badges when you get stopped by police for traffic violations? I have heard fellow firefighters tell me they carry badges in their wallets just for that purpose. I explain to them that this could backfire, since many police officers expect someone as visiable as a firefighter (especially the ones with the light bars and such) to set an example to the community and make the extra effort to obey traffic laws. If you think that badge will get you out of a ticket... you might be in for a surprise.
03-19-2001, 11:25 AM #12TCFireFirehouse.com Guest
The only time badges are displayed in our Company is if you are wearing your dress uniform. If you decide to wear yours outside of that you'll lose it. Agree with Engine 69....most people associate a displayed badge with law enforcement. Why take the chance of mistaken identity and getting yourself in a tight spot just because you have to wear the badge as some sort of advertisement? I know more than one cop that take a dim view of someone out of uniform showing any type of badge, causes too much potential confusion and questions. Many volunteers in my area have Company jackets that are more than adequate in letting people know you belong to a Fire Company. Our Officers have a second badge to carry with them but I've never been in a situation where I needed to show mine to anyone. I've also heard of the badge getting people out of a traffic ticket, never had the opportunity to find out whether it works or not, but I'd be a little hesitant in trying to impress a Police Officer with my Chief's badge. If they haven't been 'impressed' by the red lights on the vehicle, I'd say the badge isn't gonna do anything more than get a chuckle out of the officer as he writes my ticket.
03-19-2001, 02:12 PM #13Lone HunterFirehouse.com Guest
Well around Rochester a cop won't write a FF for the most part.No city cop would ever write a city FF,and I hear the towns and county are also pretty good.I'm not talking 90 mph though a school zone,just a run of the mill ticket.Guess this whole "brotherhood thing" means more around here than other places.don't carry a badge cause I'm not a cop(but I do carry a gun off duty).I have a fire dept.id.in my wallet and the 3 times I got stopped in 11 years on the job,I was always polite,admitted my wrong doing ASKED if it mattered that I was a FF and was let go each time.
[This message has been edited by Lone Hunter (edited 03-19-2001).]
03-19-2001, 05:09 PM #14tlfd600Firehouse.com Guest
Well I would say I agree with about everyone here. I do have a fire department badge that I mainly wear on my uniform shirt, but do have a belt clip on it if I make a call in my plain clothes and can't grab my EMS vest we are given. There are several people in my area that do that, one guy haas the police duty belt with his fire pager, galls volunteer badge and never takes his kojac light off the roof of his truck, he gets made fun of alot by the whole county. I personally feel my saftey would be in danger by people thinking I was police if I wore my badge on my belt all the time, when I am volunteering on a fire truck or being paid on an ambulance I am a firm beliver in wait till the scene is scure before I enter and I think the badge on the belt can be as bad as entering an unsafe scene.
03-19-2001, 05:36 PM #15hagerff/emtiFirehouse.com Guest
THe last ambulance co that I worked for issued badges to all of the staff. We were a vollie squad and everyone held a "day" job. We had belt clips for our badges and neck cords too. No one ever wore their badge just for fun but wore it only when the tones went off. It was the way our community could ID us and make that connection with the ambulance. THe whole wearing it to training or testing sounds dumb to me. I try not to broadcast my EMS certification to the world. I think its a law suit waiting to happen.
Our FD does not issue badges but we do have co Tee shirts that we wear. I dont see it wrong to wear a CO Tee when off duty...but thats just me!
West Trail Amb. Svc
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03-19-2001, 07:16 PM #16FLAME5Firehouse.com Guest
SORRY IF MY TYPING IN CAPS. BOTHERS I DIDN'T THINK IT WAS AN ISSUE. I LIKE IT THOUGH.
03-19-2001, 08:02 PM #17cozmosisFirehouse.com GuestEngine69 said: Since we are talking about badges, what are your feelings on "flashing" badges when you get stopped by police for traffic violations?
Although on the topic of identification, my "day job" is in newspapers. When I came on the job, I was excited to get media creditials. I couldn't wait to show my press card to someone. Do you know how many times I've needed it in seven years? None that I can remember. I would bet the same would be true with badges on belts off-duty.
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03-19-2001, 08:11 PM #18RescueCoFiremanFirehouse.com Guest
I disagree with the idea of firemen wearing their badges while off duty or carrying them as not part of a uniform whether they are volunteer or career. Unless your a Fire Marshal then the only time a fireman should wear his badge is on his uniform. If your out of your jurisdiction or repsond as a civilian to an emergency then I suggest carring a fire department ID card. Our fire department issues these.
03-19-2001, 11:15 PM #19Nick SBFD 6Firehouse.com Guest
Well, this sounds like a debate for the JR/Explorer forum...Just kidding
I think that is stupid! What kind of flashing light addict, glory lovin' tough guy wannabe would do such a thing?!?! Around here you would get a ticket, just for being dumb!
I know someone who admits he carries his badge around in his wallet, WHY? are you gonna flash it at fires to get in? That's what bunker gear is for!
It sounds to me like these people are a bunch of wannabe cops running around like being a volunteer fireman requires the public to bow down and grovel to them as they walk by. It unfortunatly makes us all look like a bunch of wackers and I don't like that. I am damn proud of what I do and I even have the state issued firefighter plates, because I like how they look. Not because I want to get out of tickets or park in the firelanes at Wal-Mart.
Oh well, sorry if I went off on a tangent but these sorts of things are what hold us back from our goal of true professionalism.
A few more than my two cents,
03-20-2001, 12:17 AM #20FLAME5Firehouse.com Guest
GOT TO AGREE WITH YOU NICK ON THIS ONE. THE BADGE WAS NOT MADE TO GET YOURSELF OUT OF YOUR PERSONAL SCREW UP'S (IF THAT'S WHAT YOU USE IT FOR) WANNA BE COPS NAH I DON'T THINK THAT IS THE THING, I THINK IT IS SOME SORT OF POWER TRIP BUT NOT A POLICE THING WELL NOT IN MY AREA (AS FAR AS I KNOW???).
03-20-2001, 02:34 PM #21DOG 4035Firehouse.com Guest
Badges?? We don't need no stinking badges!!! Sorry I couldn't resist..Carry on.
"It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog." STAY SAFE-STAY LOW
03-20-2001, 07:02 PM #22ff21Firehouse.com Guest
In my dept. the cheif put out a notice that if you respondes to a call in plain clothes you where to have your badge on yor belt
and if you where rideing the truck on your off day or if your a vollly.
a lot of us where them on our issue jackets
stay safe and have fun
03-21-2001, 12:25 AM #23Eng522ineFirehouse.com Guest
As far as wearing a badge to a training class or just on your belt around town for the hell of it ... only one word can be used to describe this....WHACKER. If one of the members on my department wore his/her badge around for no real reason they would probably be laughed out of the department. We do get company jackets and usually either wear them or keep them in the car, they come in handy on calls and if you happen to stop to help out in another town. As for getting out of tickets, you may be better off NOT letting them know you're on the FD. A friend of mine "flashed" his uniform badge to a cop in the next town over to try to get out of a ticket. Not only did he GET the ticket, the next day the chief took his badge away, suspended his apparatus driving privileges, and reamed him a new one. Seems the cop and the chief were friends and the chief didn't take it too well hearing that one of his guys was driving around "like a raving lunatic". The chief felt that if he couldn't drive a sedan responsibly he couldn't drive an engine responsibly either. In my opinion, as a firefighter, volunteer or career, you really have no need to carry a badge "off-duty," the obvious exception being performing inspections. Besides, to convey a professional image, some type of "uniform" or other identifying clothing should be worn for inspections anyway.
03-21-2001, 07:33 AM #24RADFIREFirehouse.com Guest
69 Engine brings up a valid point about the badge flashing bs. It could backfire. This dept. that this thread is concerning and all fire/ems outfits should stop this practice too. Instead of flashing the badge couldn't a person simply say that they are on the way to a call, if they are. If not then have a little tact and mention it when the officer is carrying out dialogue with you. If something you do is a big enough deal nothing is going to get you out of it.
Just my 0.02.
03-21-2001, 12:45 PM #25LooperFirehouse.com Guest
I am also a full time police officer and I agree with the general opinion here. When I am off duty, I don't want any one to know I'm a cop. In Texas we have a concealed handgun law, so there are a lot of other people walking around with fanny packs -- I don't stick out too munch. I have an extra badge in my wallet that rarely see the light of day. I also have a belt clip, but only use it when in plain clothes and carrying my firearm exposed (usually training).
My VFD issues one badge and that is for uniform shirts only! All members are required to have a dept sticker on their vehicle and that is adequate identification (goes next to my police union sticker). If you respond to a scene, you must either have on your bunker gear, or some form of dept clothing (t-shirt, jacket, shorts, etc.) -- we are working on picture I.D.s now.
"Flashing" badge can quickly lead to trouble. I know way too many police officers (and a few FF) that have gotten into deep sh*t that way -- usually involving alcohol. I know of one firefighter that was arrested for "directing traffic while intoxicated" -- he was holding up his badge while trying to cross a busy street after a concert.
Leave the badges on your uniform!
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