1. #1
    The Snake Man
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Question Ethical traps for fire inspectors

    99.99% of the time I consider myself to be very aware of ethical issues like not taking gifts or offers at certain business from the owners. However, every once and awhile I find myself in a situation cause I wasn't paying attention. Here is an example: I was running late for all of my inspections. I called up the last inspection of the day, which was a resturaunt, and ask to cancel. The owner said that he had prefered that I not cancel because there wouldn't be a better opportunity for several months to inspect. So I drove over and started doing the inspection. The owner asked me if I had a long day and I replied "yes, I was so busy I didn't even stop for lunch. The resturaunt was closed at this time and where in the process of closing down. The owner shortly afterwards walks around the counter with a huge plate of nice yummy mexican food and says "these are some left overs". At that point I didn't see this as being a "troubled" inspection, they were doing well. As a reaction I took the plate from him and took a bite. It was at that point that I realized what I was doing and what this manager could be expecting. Or do you think he was just being neighborly. Have any of you found yourself in a position like this? Its kinda scary aye? Well, I ended up swallowing the one bite I had, thanked him and teased about it with him. He laughed and understood, he also apologized for putting me in a bad position. I replied it was my fault.
    What do ya think and do you have a story?

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Good topic.

    I have made it a policy not to accept anything from someone who owns/operates a facility that I inspect or will probably inspect. That includes a cup of coffee.

    The only exception is when a facility donates say, several pizzas to the entire department while at a fire scene. Or the local donut place sends several dozen to a call. I feel they are making a contribution to the department, not to any one individual.

    I have been offered everything from coffee to a full meal. I usually just explain that it's department policy not to accept gratuities, and they understand.

    Hope to see more postings on this type of topic.

    Stay Safe.
    You asked for my opinion, now you have it. Any similarity to another opinion, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

    [This message has been edited by 9C7 (edited November 09, 2000).]

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I have been placed in an almost identical position. As a manager was pouring out some coffee, she filled a cup and handed it to me. I was writing notes and took a sip before I even realized what I did. So, I left 50 cents on the cash register when I walked by it and politely explained that I could be disciplined for not paying for my coffee. She got the message and was OK with it, and I felt I made the best of a bad situation.

    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs down

    Great topic Snake Man..

    I encountered several times some years past
    of owners or managers offering or giving me
    from coffee to lunch on the house..
    One incident I was with my vol.fire co.,
    out on a Saturday night in Dec.,we went to the local diner after bring Santa around the district,for a bite to eat,they set us up
    in at a long table in back of the diner.

    In this area next to us was the Exit Door.
    This exit was blocked w/chairs&trays,
    upon seeing this my BP goes up,(I had a lot
    of problems w/this place &owner,blocked exits
    always one of them) I got up went to the cash
    register and showed my ID &Badge told the
    owner that the exit was blocked & must unblock it NOW,so he got the waitress and they unblocked it,w/the owner complaining he has no place to put the stuff,my reply was
    sorry but not my problem ,you can't block the Exit Doors,and have been told numerous times.. After all this some members of my
    vol.co.were not happy that I did this
    while they were there,it was uncalled for..
    So I took heat for the rest of the time there
    .So when we were leaving the pres.ask for the bill and the owner said it was on him-
    my BP went up again,I got up went over and
    said we are paying,didn't come here for free
    meals... Just was not a good =night..

    Other times I go to this hot dog/fast food
    restaurant for lunch the owner would always
    try if he seen me ,to not let me pay..
    I paid.. Then one weekend me & my wife stop in to get lunch and he sees me ,stops ask how
    it going etc., (nice to be noticed around town
    but it gets carried away) so we were just
    about done and he says it on the house.
    Again had to pay,and was the last time
    I went there to eat,or pretty much any other
    restaurant in town to eat-so I wouldn't have to worry about free meals etc...

    It happens at McDonalds too. I have the official fire car,out doing inspections ,I pull in through drive thru ,order ,pull up
    to window to get my food & girl hands it to
    me and says the asst.manager says it is no Charge..Told the girl I pay. She said the police get it free all the time.....
    I even was bribed sort of,an owner of a waste disposal co ,I just reinspect which
    noting was corrected.wanted to go across the street and we would have lunch and talk about
    it ,he was buying,told him no and asked if he was trying to bribe me ,of course he said
    no,but the way he was going about it etc.,I had that feeling,told him he could get arrested for trying ,he didn't like that too much..(I was worried might get my legs broken
    by the mob? at that time there were links
    w/mobs &disposal co's. I was lucky)
    Never a dull moment..
    How about at Christmas time when these
    business give & send bottles of wine & liquor
    to you? Had that happen when I was head of the Bureau.. Most of it was dropped off at
    the building dept.for me. I was shocked...
    It may not seem like much come parred to
    large sums of money,but it just an point of
    Ethics..I would not look the other way
    when it comes to safety of lives of citizens
    &Fire personnel....

  5. #5
    Tom Erwin
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Thumbs up

    Great topic! I have also found myself in this position and it is really uncomfortable. I first explain that it is against department policy, and if this fails then I leave payment on the counter with a hearty thanks for the thought. The problem comes in when there are other members of the bureau that do accept these charities.
    But how about those situations where a manager offers a discount when you visit their establishment for lunch or dinner while on duty? I would like to hear if any others have encountered this problem.

  6. #6
    The Snake Man
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Good question? I have excepted discounts that local business's give our dept. as volunteer incintives but when Im there on official business thats a different story. IE the local Burger King gives our firefighters 20% off there meal. I have been there a couple of times in uniform and after the others have got there discount Im next in line and request no discount. Its at this point they look at me funny and I explain that Im the inspector. But if Im in plain cloths and or through the drive through I will often ask for the firefighter discount if Im not recognized. Hummm but you know now Im thinking thats a bad idea, looking back! What do you all think?

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