This should help our recruitment efforts ...
"Dateline Moves Up Critical Report On NY Volunteers"
(New York, NY) -- In a move that has many fire-rescue personnel stunned,
producers of "Dateline:NBC" not only have refused to drop a scheduled report
critical of volunteer firefighters, but they've moved it up one day. The
segment scheudled to air tonight 12/7/99 at 10pm Eastern/Pacific and 9pm SCT asks
"Did Firefighters Do All They Could Do?"
In a report filed by veteran NBC reporter Mike Taibbi, a husband claims that
volunteer firefighters in Saratoga, NY, did not do enough to to try to rescue
his wife, who died during a raging house fire. The story will focus on the
issue of liability, and questions whether New York State's volunteers are
ready to heed the call.
Several firefighters, including John Cannon, president of the Professional
Fire Fighters of Maine, have written emails to NBC expressing their concern
that the story is being run while five members of the Worcester Six remain
trapped in debris.
You can voice your concern by contacting NBC Public Relations through Caroline Perez - caroline.perez@.bc.com
OnScene Marketing Services
"Mutual Aid for Marketing Your Fire Department"
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Thread: Watch Out! Here they come again!
12-07-1999, 03:31 PM #1TigerFirehouse.com Guest
Watch Out! Here they come again!
12-08-1999, 09:04 AM #2iwood51Firehouse.com Guest
Did they air it?
Does anyone know of a link to view the video?
If they aired it, how critical was it of the volunteer service?
Being a NY volunteer myself, I am very interested.
12-08-1999, 10:25 AM #3ChapCaptFirehouse.com Guest
I did catch it last night. The story goes something like this. A fire burns in a building with six or eight apts. A husband and wife wake up noticing the fire. The only way out is to run through fire out the front door, down some common exterior stairs. The man states he had his wifes hand until he let go to open the door. He ran out, his wife was not behind him. He tries to get back in but can't. He runs around back figuring he can break through the wall from the apt. that adjoins his. he tries with a fire extinguisher and cannot. He meets the first truck on scene and reports that the only way in through the adjoining apt., he can still hear his wife screaming, hurry up and go get her. The FF he relays this to grabs a haligan and heads for the adjoining apt. The chief notices this guy is badly burned and prevents him from following the firefighter back in and escorts him to a bus for treatment. He was subsequently flown to a trauma center for burns over 60% of his body.
The firefighter enters the adjoining apt., makes a few swings with the haligan in an attempt to breach the wall. He meets resistance and figures it will be easier to through the front door of the actual apt. where the victim is trapped. He and the hose team make an attempt. The deck has been consumed by fire, there is heavy fire all around the entrance, no way to go in. He returns to the adjoning apt, gives it few more shots to no avail. The FF states that at no time did hear any sounds from the trapped women. During the second attempt the evacuate signal is given. He tries for another moment or two, the conditions are deteoriating rapidly, he leaves. 2 minutes later, collapse.
From the program, it sounds as if he made a few wacks at the wall and found it too difficult to breach. The husband claims that the FD was negligent in that they did not listen to him, wasted time trying to go through the front door. The FF stated it only took 1 minute to check the front and decide it was not possible. The husband contends that this minute could have been spent breeching the wall and possibly saved her.
The jury agreed with the FD. They did everything they could. Based upon training, available options, size of the fire etc.. they did the right thing. They questioned why the husband ever let go of his wife. The Dept. ended up being cleared of liability. The husband was also mad that they restrained him and would not let him back in the building.
In my opinion the news casters did not unfairly "beat up" the FF or the dept. He asked some tough questions that I am sure where already asked in court.
The program did not question or bash the readiness or training of any other fire depts. vollie or paid.
Of course we did not get the whole story, we don't know how many guys where on scene, what the others where doing and whole host of other factors. They did mention that other residents of the builing needed assistance, so that of course takes manpower. We could second guess this all day long, but why?
It appears, from the information presented, these guys did the best they could in a bad situation. It is unfortunate but people perish in fires, and in light of the recent tradgety none of us needs a reminder that too often it is us!!!
That fire fighter will live with this the rest of his life. I would bet not a day goes buy that he doesn't ask himself what else he could have done.
Last thing: There was some question as to what this would mean to the rest of emergency resonders. Would we be sued every time something went wrong. Would someone question every move we made? There is still an open issue about this from what I can tell. If someone caught this piece from the program better than I did please elaborate on it.
Hope this helps those of you that did not catch it on TV. I believe I have the facts presented reasonbly straight and recanted the story to the best of my memory. If I missed something I am sure I will corrected by many of you shortly.
12-08-1999, 11:04 AM #4Lieutenant GonzoFirehouse.com Guest
Any firefighter who has dealt with a fire that resulted in a fatality will have his or her actions questioned by those who felt that "they didn't do enough". It's bad enough that we wrack ourselves with guilt, thinking if we did something different the victims would still be alive. I was at a fire about twelve years ago where we lost two kids. The fire happened just after the holiday season. I was assigned to the Rescue Company then, and it was a tough time for all of us. In March of 1999, I responded to a fire as the Lt. in charge of the first due company. The house was 3/4's involved. We attempted to gain entry the structure to search the uninvolved area for the victim. The floor gave way, dumping three firefighters into the cellar. Four jakes were injured at that fire and the resident died in the fire. As fate would have it, the gentleman we lost was the grandfather of the kids in the fire twelve years ago.
There are two things you can do to help the situation: first, assign someone as the public information officer to deal with any questions that will arise. Second, take advantage of critical incident stress debriefing, it does help.
Take care and be safe....Lt. Gonzo
[This message has been edited by Lieutenant Gonzo (edited December 08, 1999).]
12-08-1999, 01:16 PM #5Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
I caught the report, also. The recaps above are accurate, so I'm not going to rehash. I didn't think that the was as poorly framed as I expected it to be...just the usual doses of sensationalism and doubt-casting that we can expect from "news" magazines on TV.
The husband also managed to make himself look fairly arrogant in terms of his recollections and asessment of his own abilities compared to those of the firefighters. The jury members they interviewed clearly though the husband was suing to compensate for his failure to rescue his wife initially...they seemed to think he either turned and ran blindly or just left her to die for some reason. This in spite of the correspondent's prodding to cast some blame on the fire fighters.
What I find absolutely infuriating is that they chose to run this thing while the recovery was ongoing in Worcester. That was completely disrespectful and totally out of line. They could have run this story any time...the case is over and there was no mention of appeal (that I remember). My guess is that NBC moved it up to take advantage of the fact the firefighters are currently a big topic in the evening news...they couldn't even wait for the memorial service to be over before they tried to suck ratings and profits out of this horrible tradgedy.
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