Why register? ...To Enhance Your Experience
+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 12 of 12

Thread: Losers VIII

  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Angry Losers VIII

    Here we go again....

    Illinois Firefighters Arrested for Arson


    NATHANIEL WEST
    Courtesy of Journal Gazette & Times-Courier

    TOWER HILL -- Dave McDonald was quite surprised last week when he awoke to find his machine shed in flames.

    But he was even more shocked to learn that two former volunteer firefighters were among those arrested for setting his building on fire.

    "I just thought a fireman was supposed to protect you, rather than do harm," said McDonald, of rural Tower Hill.

    On Monday and Tuesday, a tip from Shelby County Crime Stoppers and information from the Tower Hill Fire Department led to the arrests of a Tower Hill firefighter, two ex-firefighters and a female accomplice, according to Shelby County State's Attorney Allan Lolie.

    The suspects, all in their early 20s, have been charged in connection with a year-long string of arson fires in and around the small village of Tower Hill. And experts said it's not "unheard of" for youthful firefighters to start blazes simply for the joy of extinguishing them.

    "They just want to play with fire, they want to go be firemen," said Ken Kuntz, a fire studies specialist with the U.S. Fire Administration in Emmitsburg, Md.

    While the exact number of the nation's firefighters-turned-arsonists is unclear, a USFA special report from January 2003 suggests a rash of "nuisance fires" in a particular fire district may point to firefighters lighting them intentionally.

    According to Shelby County authorities, the Tower Hill arsons began Jan. 12, 2003, with the destruction of a barn near the village. A house was damaged on Feb. 15, 2003, in rural Tower Hill, followed by a house fire July 30, 2003, within the village itself.

    McDonald's machine shed was destroyed on Feb. 28, the same day a blaze consumed a stack of hay bales in Herrick Township south of Tower Hill.

    After a tip from the Crime Stoppers, authorities met with Tower Hill Fire Department officials, said Lolie.

    Police on Monday arrested 20-year-old Kristopher D. Pope, a Tower Hill firefighter, as well as Travis H. Crouch, 20, and Chad L. Hopkins, 21, both former Tower Hill firefighters. Rachel J. Eller, 24, was taken into custody Tuesday.

    "I think it's very sad," said Lolie. "Since Sept. 11, we as a nation have come to respect our firefighters even more, and when people of that profession betray that trust ... it's really a sad day.

    "I think it's important to recognize the difficult job our volunteer and our full-time firefighters face, and this should not reflect negatively on those who do a good job day in and day out."

    Added Shelby County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Bill England, "The fire departments do their best to pick good candidates, but you can only check so far."

    The four arson suspects appeared at the Shelby County Courthouse Wednesday.

    Pope, of Tower Hill, was charged with three counts of arson relating to the 2003 fires. His bail was set at $35,000, and he remains in custody.

    Tower Hill resident Crouch was charged with the July 2003 and February 2003 fires, as well as the two blazes on Feb. 28. He posted 10 percent of his $50,000 bail and was released Wednesday.

    Hopkins, of Shelbyville, faces one count of arson from the January 2003 barn fire. His bail was $25,000, which was paid for his release Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, Ramsey resident Eller has been charged with the two Feb. 28 fires, and she remains in the Shelby County Detention Center with a bail of $50,000.

    Public Defender Robert Swiney was appointed to represent Hopkins and Eller while Pope and Crouch indicated they will hire their own attorneys.

    Lolie said the Shelby County Sheriff's Department and the Illinois State Fire Marshal's Office are continuing their investigation, and more arrests are possible.

    England said he does not know the motives of the suspected arsonists, but speculated that they allegedly started those fires "just for the thrill of fighting a fire."

    That conclusion makes sense to fire protection experts.

    "It is not unheard of," said Alan Clark, executive director of the International Association of Arson Investigators and assistant vice president of special investigations for Grinnell Mutual Reinsurance Company in Grinnell, Iowa.

    He said there appear to be more volunteer firefighters than paid firefighters who become fire starters, but likely because there are many more volunteers around the country.

    "It creates excitement, particularly in rural areas," he said. "It's unfortunate that it happens."

    Citing research from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, last year's USFA study claims "the number one motive was excitement, especially among young firefighters who were eager to put their training to practical use, and to be seen as heroes to fellow firefighters and the community they served."


    To those firefighters that are doing this same kind of illegal activity for whatever reason, and you think that you would never be caught, think again. We will catch you and you will go to jail. We will do everything that we can to make sure that you never serve in a fire company/department ever again!


  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    850

    Default

    can we call for a moratorium on "bad fire fighter" stories

    Yes, it gives us a black eye
    Yes, it fuels the never ending silly vollie vs pro arguements

    The only thing to discuss is how to screen these people before they become trained FFs.

  3. #3
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Somewhere between genius and insanity!
    Posts
    13,583

    Default

    Originally posted by pfd3501
    can we call for a moratorium on "bad fire fighter" stories

    Yes, it gives us a black eye
    Yes, it fuels the never ending silly vollie vs pro arguements

    The only thing to discuss is how to screen these people before they become trained FFs.
    We can call for a moratorium on "bad firefighter stories" when the NVFC gets it's head out of it's rectum and recognizes the problem and starts to do something about it!

    It makes all firefighters look bad!
    ‎"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

  4. #4
    Forum Member SFD13's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Posts
    195

    Default

    Well said Captain.

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    850

    Default

    Originally posted by CaptainGonzo


    We can call for a moratorium on "bad firefighter stories" when the NVFC gets it's head out of it's rectum and recognizes the problem and starts to do something about it!

    It makes all firefighters look bad!
    CapGonz

    by NVFC do you mean National Volunteer Fire Council?

    What do you propose that they do about this?

  6. #6
    Forum Member PAVolunteer's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Dauphin County, PA
    Posts
    1,139

    Default

    What do you propose that they do about this?
    ... anything would be nice, but here are my recommendations ...

    A. Recognize the problem
    B. Research how to stop it
    C. Provide volunteer departments with the information necessary to implement an appropriate screening process
    D. Lobby state and local governments to provide access to criminal background checks to VFD's

    ... and that's just a start.

    Stay Safe

  7. #7
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,672

    Default

    anything would be nice
    ahh, to dream.....
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    850

    Default maybe I'm naive about this?

    From CaptainGonzo "We can call for a moratorium on "bad firefighter stories" when the NVFC gets it's head out of it's rectum and recognizes the problem and starts to do something about it! "

    From PAVOLUNTEER
    A. Recognize the problem

    Am I uniformed, underinformed, perhaps naive about the depth of this problem?

    Do I have my head in the sand (and no, before you even ask, my head is not in other places )

    I'll grant that we see more articles on ff induced arson on this site.
    And maybe the media in general plays up a ff arson more than a general public arson.

    On a percentage basis, are we lighting them off at a higher rate than the general public?

    I have heard speakers at arson seminars insinuate that FFs, especially vollies, join to "feed the beast" so to speak. So at least the thought that amongst the ranks of firefighters lurks arsonist, aka BACKDRAFT

    If it is really an epidemic, we need to identify it, but is it a case of prevalence or bad press?
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    B. Research how to stop it I don't want to be negative, but that sounds like a boondoggle
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------
    C. Provide volunteer departments with the information necessary to implement an appropriate screening process

    A standardized testing system? as part of the application the prospect takes a arson propensity test disguised in some written testing?
    If they chose choice "C" 0-3 times, they have the average firefighters curiosity

    If they chose "C" 4-6 times, watch them closely,

    choose "C" 6 or more times, call the Fire Marshall?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    D. Lobby state and local governments to provide access to criminal background checks to VFD's
    I can get (and am now required) to have at least "brief criminal history" and drivers license check done on new applicants.

    The local police or county sheriff's department will run these checks for me. It is not quite as in depth as the checks for a police officer, but it is supposed to catch their legal infractions.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Not trying to be a smartass about this. Maybe it's because I'm semi new to this forum, but when we post stories on the forum it seems like the posters do it in a career vs vollie fashion. Prior to this thread, and my first post on this, I haven't seen anything about how serious this issue is, or how to address it.

  9. #9
    Forum Member Bones42's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Pt. Beach, NJ
    Posts
    10,672

    Default

    pfd3501, unfortunately, it is a problem. There are far too many cases of ff's being involved with arson. It has also been discussed many times on this forum. I cannot speak for the paid side as I am volunteer. I do know, there are many volunteer companies that do not perform any kind of background checks, they do not get any police assisted investigations. It has been suggested and discussed about using psychological exams to evaluate new members as there are studies that show a common trend in FF arsonists. Do some searching on the forums involving this, you will see many threads with some great discussions. Do a search on FF arson and GeorgeWendtCFI, he was a strong advocate for thorough background checks.

    The complaints about the NVFC stem from a bunch of nothing being said on their side about this problem. They worry more about "two-hatters" in MD and contracts in CT than they do about issues that ALL volunteers face. As the lead agency for volunteer departments, you would think the NVFC would push us for higher standards. Everytime a case involving FF arson comes up, you will notice nothing being said/addressed by the NVFC. Ignoring the problem will not make it go away.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    850

    Default

    Bones
    I could write a letter to NVFC about this issue, but I guess first it would have more impact if my department or myself joined.

    If this has been brought to their table as an issue, and they have ignored it, shame on them.

    If this is a problem in your area, (and I'm not singling Bones out) have you contacted your state reps and senators? Brought this to light in county or state officers meetings?

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Location
    Conshohocken, PA
    Posts
    391

    Default Why keep this up?

    pfd3501 asks;
    "can we call for a moratorium on "bad fire fighter" stories"

    I will not do any such thing for all of the following reasons.
    Please see any/all of the following:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...672#post316672

    and;

    "http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/showthread.php?s=&threadid=47418"

    and;

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...476#post332476

    and;

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...347#post345347

    and;

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...971#post370971

    and;

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=55453

    and;

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=56293

    The point of this effort posting these types of incidents on this particular forum is to bring about change in the volunteer fire service leadership. There are many people in leadership positions in our avocation that have done little or nothing to change this problem. This has been a problem with the volunteer fire service in PA since 1975 when I first joined the PA fire service and we have done little to change it. A recent study by PEMA, has provided some very good information, and the present State Fire Commissioner, Ed Mann, has established a Fire Fighter Arson Task Force to develop educational programs at the entry level. While this is a very good first step much more can be done, specifically the steps taken in South Carolina that I have previously posted.

    A recent blue ribbon panel study conducted by the Volunteer & Combination Officers Section of the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Preserving and Improving the Future of the Volunteer Fire Service, discusses the need for certian activities at the National, State and Local levels to improve the nations volunteer fire service. This report is 20 pages of long needed improvements but the only mention of the fire fighters as fire lighters problem is a recommendation to Local level officials to conduct "Criminal background checks on all prospective members." NOTHING ELSE IS RECOMMENDED IN THIS REPORT BY OUR LEADERS TO ADDRESS THIS PROBLEM!

    I have to ask our leadership why. I will continue to provide these posts whenever I see them. If it embaresses you then join the IAFC and the VCOS and express your concern for their lack of action on this very important issue. Every other concern and recommendation for action in that report is premature until they address the problem of fire fighters who light fires.

    pfd3501 posted:
    "Not trying to be a smartass about this. Maybe it's because I'm semi new to this forum, but when we post stories on the forum it seems like the posters do it in a career vs vollie fashion."

    Where in my post did I do any such thing? The fact of the matter is that while some career fire fighters do commit arson, the majority of fire fighters that commit arson and are caught doing so are far and away volunteers.

    pfd3501 posted:
    "Prior to this thread, and my first post on this, I haven't seen anything about how serious this issue is, or how to address it."

    My point exactly! The volunteer fire service has stuck it's head in the sand and ignored this problem for far too long.
    Last edited by glowpop; 03-18-2004 at 11:56 AM.

  12. #12
    MembersZone Subscriber mohican's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Posts
    850

    Default Re: Why keep this up?

    Originally posted by glowpop
    pfd3501 posted:

    "Not trying to be a smartass about this. Maybe it's because I'm semi new to this forum, but when we post stories on the forum it seems like the posters do it in a career vs vollie fashion."

    Where in my post did I do any such thing? The fact of the matter is that while some career fire fighters do commit arson, the majority of fire fighters that commit arson and are caught doing so are far and away volunteers.


    Not throwing stones at you in particular, glowpop

    The first of this type of thread that I've viewed was titled "PAID GUYS DO IT TOO"

    My first response in this thread was just a "here we go again".

    As far as feeling ashamed because some of our brethren, somewhere light one up for fun or profit I feel that is like visiting the sins of the Father onto his sons, so to speak.

    I would feel bad about it if, when review a background check, I ignored the fact that the potential had some misdemeanor firestarter charges or full blown arson felonies. Or ignoring someone who pays attention to the investigator showing a timing device, when the guy never does any of the arson investigation work.

    to sum this up

    God,
    give me the courage to change what needs to be changed
    give me the serenity to accept what can't be changed
    give me the wisdom to know the difference

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts