1. #1
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    Default Fire Fighter Arson - 60 Minutes II

    60 Minutes II is advertising that they will carry a segment on Fire Fighter Arson on Wed. Nov. 20, 2002. The advertisement I saw said it would be at 10:00 PM EST.

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    Angry

    Firefighter arson? Gee...is there a problem?

    You bet there is...
    __________________________________________________ _
    NEW CUMBERLAND, W.Va. (AP) - A Hancock County volunteer
    firefighter was arrested Tuesday on charges of setting fire to
    vacant structures.
    James Bradley Reese, 21, a member of the New Cumberland
    Volunteer Fire Department, faces three counts of first-degree
    arson, said Kim O'Brien with the state Fire Marshal's office.
    Reese was being held at the Northern Regional Jail on $60,000
    bond.
    Reese is accused of burning of up to seven vacant structures
    between August and November, O'Brien said. There were no injuries
    in any of the fires.

    (Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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    Default It's about time!

    George:
    I know that you have been a strong advocate for a national forum on firefighter arson. Thank you for continuing your efforts.
    This program should come as bittersweet. I have to question "why now?"
    I'll be watching with great interest.

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    Default firefighter arson on 60 minutes

    I will also be watching the program tonight. I only hope that it is fair in its reporting on who is starting the fires. What I mean is that volunteer firefighters should not be shown as the only ones that start these fires. It happens in all types of departments ( career, combination and volunteer ). There should also be responses from firefighters that we consider those firefghter that do start fires as real scum and I would never call that person a " brother ".
    "Fire Prevention is our Intention"

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    Default

    This program should come as bittersweet. I have to question "why now?"
    When would be a better time??

    I too will be watching, I hope I learn something and that it isn't some big dig against FF personell.

    Wonder if it will lead to greater screening for new recruits and members. Possibly with the right kind of back ground checks, mental exams and other research we could keep the potential arsonist out of the Fire Service.

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    A TV show will expose the problem for about one day. A TV show will not change the system. Fire fighters have to decide that they have had enough and force the major fire organizations to do something. Oh yeah, I STILL have no answer whatsoever from the NVFC.

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    Default Firefighter Arsonists: The CBS Report

    Tonight, on CBS' 60 Minutes II, Dan Rather examined firefighter arsons and went in-depth with a series of examples of cases across the country.

    What did you think of the story and how it portrayed te fire service?

    What do you think about the problem of firefighter arsonists?

    Post your comments and thoughts here.

    -WebTeam

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    What an outstanding segment! Fair, balanced and well produced. The segment clearly explained the problem, explained logically why there are more volunteers arrested than career, and examined possible solutions.

    The case study was so typical it was eery. He was like 90% of the 38 fire fighters my agency has arrested in my career. The profile that was put forth by the gentleman from SC was right on the money.

    The solutions are so obvious. Psychological exams and background checks. Education at the recruit level. It can and will work.

    WHERE ARE YOU NATIONAL VOLUNTEER FIRE COUNCIL? WHY ARE YOU SILENT? PLEASE SPEAK OUT AND LET'S GET THIS BALL ROLLLING!

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    What an outstanding segment! Fair, balanced and well produced. The segment clearly explained the problem, explained logically why there are more volunteers arrested than career, and examined possible solutions.

    The case study was so typical it was eery. He was like 90% of the 38 fire fighters my agency has arrested in my career. The profile that was put forth by the gentleman from SC was right on the money.

    The solutions are so obvious. Psychological exams and background checks. Education at the recruit level. It can and will work.

    WHERE ARE YOU NATIONAL VOLUNTEER FIRE COUNCIL? WHY ARE YOU SILENT? PLEASE SPEAK OUT AND LET'S GET THIS BALL ROLLLING!

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    Default Red flags a' plenty

    I think the show was pretty straight forward. I cringe every single time I hear of firefighter arson. Was it me, or was the "featured subject" from Ohio one BIG RED FLAG? We need to do a better job of prevention,detection and punishment of firefighters who commit arson. Career AND Volunteer.

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    Angry

    The sad part is we hear about firefighters setting fires often either just for fun or because they didnt think they were getting enough calls so they just had to go and set some. It wouldn't be as bad if it had only happened once or twice. But it's a common occurence. What would posses firefighters - the people who are supposed to protect the community from fire - to go out and set fires? Everytime this happens it makes the ENTIRE fire service look bad. Especially the department the firefighter was from. There will always be people out there to screw everything up. Most say the reason was they just wanted a call. Well isn't it better to have no calls which mean no one is suffering from losses of fire than to have calls which firefighters set themselves? I don't know the consequences for getting caught but they oughta be really stiff. Now I just wander how long it will be before some other firefighting idiot goes out and sets another one and gets caught.

    Matt

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    Default Firesetter Doug-Poster Child!

    Could the poster child for firefighter firesetters have been any more pathetic? It's bad enough that he set fires, but to his own fire station? And then there was the son of the asst. chief. Christ; where do we find these guys? Oh, that's right; they find us.
    Got to say it again; background checks are a must. And skinny guys with beady eyes and thick, plastic rims is a dead giveaway.
    Applicant; please remove the sunglasses for your interview.
    It was an excellent report; too short if anything.
    Something that we as a nation of firefighters need to fix.

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    Default South Carolina has the answer!

    South Carolina went from an average of 30 firefighter arsons a year to 3! Sounds like they have found the answers. Education and a reminder of the penalties, plus barring them for life from fire departments. Stiff, swift punishment; Sweet. Now, if we can just get the major, national fire organizations to acknowledge and support reform of this national disgrace......

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    Default

    Great article, very well-balanced, fair, did not unneccessarily slam the fire service. (They know the reaction that they would get from us if that happened.) It was very fair in how it said that the only reason that volunteers were arrested the most is because there is more of us. Definitely too short though. Background checks and in-depth interviews are a must. Hats off to CBS...
    -Kris

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    Unhappy Fire Fighter Arson

    Although I unfortuantley did not have a chance to watch the show, I look forward to the reviews and results of it. Although the idea of Fire Fighters as arsonists makes me absolutley sick, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing a "brother" in a department that started dumpster fires. I regret this happening, but I think the fire service as a whole has responded to this improperly. This is in fact a disease that our brothers have. Instead of alienating these people I think we owe it to our family to get them the treatment that they need. It may be that they can't or shouldn't stay active in a department, but they fought and bled with us while they were around. We draw our members from society and statistically speaking it's guaranteed that we will end up with a small number of Fire Fighters that are arsonists, just as some teachers will be child molesters and some police will beat their spouses and children. It's an unfortunate fact of life. But I feel exposing people and helping them is more effective at combating the problem than ignoring it or shunning people. Perhaps a paradigm shift in the service would allow some people to come and ask for help before they start while they are contemplating the acts they are about to comit and prevent fires while helping our brothers. Let's not unnecessarily turn our back on our own.

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    I missed the show feel asleep without the vcr set. Ok I have gotten the just about background checks, but what if you have a new recruit wanting to join, you THINK there was something in his past about arson but aren't sure and can't prove it. His juevinal records are sealed. Then what? Would really like to know if any of you have ever ran across this problem before and how you handled it.

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    Default Re: Fire Fighter Arson

    Originally posted by thampton
    Although I unfortuantley did not have a chance to watch the show, I look forward to the reviews and results of it. Although the idea of Fire Fighters as arsonists makes me absolutley sick, I have had the unfortunate experience of knowing a "brother" in a department that started dumpster fires. I regret this happening, but I think the fire service as a whole has responded to this improperly. This is in fact a disease that our brothers have. Instead of alienating these people I think we owe it to our family to get them the treatment that they need. It may be that they can't or shouldn't stay active in a department, but they fought and bled with us while they were around. We draw our members from society and statistically speaking it's guaranteed that we will end up with a small number of Fire Fighters that are arsonists, just as some teachers will be child molesters and some police will beat their spouses and children. It's an unfortunate fact of life. But I feel exposing people and helping them is more effective at combating the problem than ignoring it or shunning people. Perhaps a paradigm shift in the service would allow some people to come and ask for help before they start while they are contemplating the acts they are about to comit and prevent fires while helping our brothers. Let's not unnecessarily turn our back on our own.
    This is exactly the attitude that allows fire fighter arson to continue at an alarming rate. They are no longer "brothers"...they have gone to the other side! They do not deserve to be considered as such.

    Let me ask you a question. This guy you knew who was setting dumpster fires, did you report him to your Chief or the police? You should have. It has been proven that this behavior escalates, and dumpster fires today are structure fires tomorrow. If you didn't report him, why not?

    Do you know what happens to teachers who molest children and cops who commit domestic violence? We put them in jail! Screw treating them as an alternative. Treat them while they are in prison, but make sure they are in prison for the maximum amount of time. And it is total, unadulterated nonsense to suggest that fire fighters who set fires are suffering from some sort of "disease".

    We shouldn't alienate them? Why in God's name not? They are criminals...pure and simple.

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    Default What about revenge firesetting?

    I noticed that setting fires for revenge was not mentioned by anyone in the telecast. Back in the early 90s, we had a buttload of arsons in our county. They could never catch him doing it. But one day, they pulled in an ex-firefighter who was alcoholic and ****ed off at the world. Though they couldn't prove it was him, they KNEW it was him. After that, the fires stopped. He moved from the area I would guess to start fires somewhere else. George, do you have a demographic on revenge sets?
    Sorry, thampton, I have to go with George on this. Your logic extended could mean that a family member could commit murder and instead of turning them over to police, we should take care of it ourselves because we wouldn't want to "shun" them. Do the crime-do the time. It wouldn't be long before this national disgrace was manageable. Firefighters who set fires knows that it is wrong. They think that they are smarter than the people they protect. They believe that they are above suspicion. Look at John Orr, the arson investigator that is credited with starting over 2000 fires in California. Prime example of a glory dog. We need to thin the herd.
    And where are the national fire organizations? Not a peep! Truly shameful!

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    Default

    Originally posted by ff_1361_ovfd
    The sad part is we hear about firefighters setting fires often either just for fun or because they didnt think they were getting enough calls so they just had to go and set some. ...What would posses firefighters - the people who are supposed to protect the community from fire - to go out and set fires? ...
    Matt
    It's kind of a double-edged sword we wield with improved Fire Prevention Education, and constraints on training budgets. My FD has, if not THE best, then certainly one of the best Fire Prevention programs in NYS. The result? I don't have historical data, but in the past year we had about 3 structure fires in a district covering about 42 sq. miles and 40,000 people. This level of structural firefighting activity-a record to be proud of- certainly does not lend itself to maintaining high levels of readiness or expertise.

    I think this overall trend in fewer fires is fabulous, but at the same time, I think most of us get involved in FF because at some level we have a gut-level attraction to the adrenaline-stoked rush of combatting a fire, pitting one's training, experience, and teamwork against the dangers of a structure fire. The altruistic motivations can sometimes feel like a thin veneer over a thirst for action.

    Then the reality sets in...hundreds of false alarms, auto accident after auto accident, EMS calls out the whazoo. It takes a great amount of training, discipline, and wisdom to be able to see that this is actually a good trend. Under these circumstances one can begin to see how the statistical fringe members -Possibly young, under educated, over confident, gung-ho, maybe a brick short of a load - might get bored and think "creating a little business" would be preferable to the hum drum routine.

    I acknowledge that I get a little restless, and in a very dark corner of my soul, would like SOMETHING to happen (not to wish harm on anyone), so I keep studying the books, sign up for every course for which I am qualified, etc. to keep busy, making a contribution.

    As has been said in other posts, better background/psych screening, education, and harsh and swift punishment are probably the most readily accessible remedies.

    Would increased live-burn training opportunities help fill this need for action on the part of fire FDs which do not normally get a lot of strucutre fires? Possibly, but in light of budget pressures and in the wake of the Lairdsville tragedy, these types of opportunities are probably going to become more rare...

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    Thumbs up Thanks George.....

    I would have missed the segment without your heads-up. I had the opportunity to pick up Joseph Wambaugh's book "Fire Lover" during an airport layover earlier this year. Incredible stuff, would highly recommend all firefighters read this book and understand the potential created by an arsonist who actually know the mechanics of fire behavior.

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    and then go to war,
    while defeated warriors go to war first,
    and then seek to win."

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    Default

    jthomas,

    You make some good points in your post about possible motivations for the firefighter arsonist. Personally, I think a well planned and well run training program that challenges the firefighter would go a long way to take the "boredom and lack of action" motivators away from the firefighter arsonist. However, it would not stop anyone who sets fires so that they can respond and be seen as a hero.
    Chris Minick, P.E., Firefighter II
    Structures Specialist, MD-TF 1

    These statements are mine and mine alone
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    Default

    Originally posted by RebeccaB
    I missed the show feel asleep without the vcr set. Ok I have gotten the just about background checks, but what if you have a new recruit wanting to join, you THINK there was something in his past about arson but aren't sure and can't prove it. His juevinal records are sealed. Then what? Would really like to know if any of you have ever ran across this problem before and how you handled it.
    ces

    Two things:

    1. Psychological testing..not backgrounds, psychologicals.

    2. I have always said that fingerprint checks and criminal history checks are a waste because they won't show what you want to know. You should be having the applicant fill out an application. Make sure the application includes a release for the applicant to sign to authorize the release of records. Then, have someone actually do a background. Call past employers and take the time to ask the hard questions. Then, have someone call the references and ask pertinent, tough questions about the applicant's character. Then ask the reference for one person who could vouch for the applicant and then call that person.
    Then, I would look at his driver's history abstract. You can learn an awful lot about a person based upon his driver's history.

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    Angry Re: Red flags a' plenty

    Originally posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    I think the show was pretty straight forward. I cringe every single time I hear of firefighter arson. Was it me, or was the "featured subject" from Ohio one BIG RED FLAG? We need to do a better job of prevention,detection and punishment of firefighters who commit arson. Career AND Volunteer.

    The problem with the segment last night is that they didn't get the side of the story from the fire department that Doug Ford burned down or the other department that he belonged to. How do I know this, I am the Captain the department he burned down & a paid FF/Medic of the deparment he also volunteered on. Mr. Ford lied when asked about if we ever asked him if he committed arson. Also, juvenile records are sealed.

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    I didn't even think about slamming the departments involved. I hope that wasn't the impression I gave. I felt bad about the fire station getting torched. Ol' Doug just looked like the part out of central casting. He is where he belongs now.

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    Mr. Ford lied when asked about if we ever asked him if he committed arson.
    Did you?

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