1. #1
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    Question Are firefighters really this bored

    Are we really getting this bored? I know you see or hear about this all the time, but do we not have enough to do without worrying about this?

    http://www.smythnews.com/servlet/Sat...558&path=!home

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    Default Volunteer Arson

    We're starting to hear more and more of this crap ! - Read this article closley - What fits here ?

    "I Couldn't believe it it's just hard to believe. - You wouldn't expect anything like that from him." - "He belonged to the Fire Department."

    This guy belonged to the Fire Department for a year and was "A number one guy." - "We could ask him to do anything and he'd do it."

    At 01:27am on a Monday Morning this guy just happened to be at the station as the call came in - Odd. - Involved in Arson Science Classes - Even a bit more strange - I say this because after only belonging for a year there is more training to under-go associated with basic firefighting than taking Arson Science Classes

    I'm not saying the Fire Department didn't see the warning signs - If there were any - but the guy's activity might make me suspicious and the fact that he just happended to be at the hall when the tones dropped at that time of the morning might make one wonder.

    Why does this happen ? Bordem no doubt - A usually slow to moderate Volunteer Company with little actual fire activity is the normal setting. - A guy gets "The Glory Boy Itch." and wants to be the man to extingush "The Big One" - We read about this all the time when will end ??? There's an answer I wish I had....Just another thorn in the side of those who are dedicated Volunteers.

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    I...am...getting...tired...of...this..........

    This is becoming an epidemic, and it's creating a huge black eye for the volunteer fire service. This story also confirms the theory I advanced in another thread...that volunteer firefighter arsonists seem to always be the young, new guys. 18-25 seems to be the predominant age group, with only months or even weeks of service. You seldom see older, experienced firefighters pulling this kind of crap, unless there's another motive (not just for the adrenaline rush of going to a fire).

    What's the solution? Background checks might be a good start, but most small volunteer departments don't have the resources for that. Maybe some training for fire officers to spot the warning signs of a potential problem (what would those be, anyway?)

    McAllister’s dream, Davidson said, was to be a firefighter
    Seems like a pretty stupid thing to do, then, doesn't it? At what point in his thought process did he figure that committing arson would contribute to achieving this goal?
    Chief Dwayne LeBlanc
    Paincourtville Volunteer Fire Department
    Paincourtville, LA

    "I have a dream. It's not a big dream, it's just a little dream. My dream — and I hope you don't find this too crazy — is that I would like the people of this community to feel that if, God forbid, there were a fire, calling the fire department would actually be a wise thing to do. You can't have people, if their houses are burning down, saying, 'Whatever you do, don't call the fire department!' That would be bad."
    — C.D. Bales, "Roxanne"

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    Exclamation In our midst

    I have done a small amount of research on this subject. Although I personally believe background checks should be required for anyone involved in EMS or FIRE whether they be Vollie or Career. A background check for the sole purpose of screening for potential arsonists would be frutiless for the most part.

    Most arsons commited by firefighters, do in fact fit into the age and experience profile dmleblanc talked about. In addition to that, most of those who have commited the crime, do not have a criminal record. So that as a tool, would not put a dent in this problem. The only real solution is for the officers, ff's to have some type of training to recognize, prevent and intervene if they suspect someone might be at risk. Hell, I can think of a few guys I have met that I wouldnt be surprised if I heard something like that about them. The 2/20's are probably a good place to start.

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    This is something I wrote not to long ago on this subject. Not to much has been done on this subject, but what has will make you think.
    -----------------

    Firefighter Arson… Why?
    By Grant Mishoe

    Why does a firefighter commit arson? This question lacks a clear answer. The headlines blare a menacing message.

    *Colorado: Summer 2002 “Feds charge forestry worker with starting fire” A 38-year-old female forestry firefighter on fire patrol burned, in anger, a letter from her estranged husband. This was in violation of a ban on fires in the tinder-dry Pike National Forest. She apparently thought the fire had been extinguished and left it only to find later that it was spreading. It led to the Hayman fire, one of the worst in this nation’s history.

    *Pennsylvania: November 23rd, 1999 “Pa firefighter charged” A 18-year-old volunteer firefighter terrorized his town by setting over 12 arson fires. Ironically his father was the Assistant Chief and long time member of the department.

    *Missouri: June 2nd, 2001 “Firefighter gets 12 years for arson that led to death” A Edgerton-Trimble firefighter was convicted for setting a barn on fire near Edgerton. A fire truck responding to the call from a neighboring department overturned on its way to the blaze, killing a 30-year-old firefighter in the process.

    *Tennessee: June 26th, 1999 “Firefighters Arrested in Arson” Six Sequoyah volunteer firefighters were convicted of setting a gasoline-fueled blaze in a vacant house. 27-year-old Danny Neil Hixson, also a volunteer firefighter, died while spreading gasoline in the attic for the arson incident.

    South Carolina has not been immune to this atrocity. This was never clearer than on January 21st, 2002. On this day Assistant Chief Tom Andersen of the Surfside Beach Fire Department died from a heart attack that he suffered while fighting an arson fire that one of his very own firefighters was later accused of setting. This person has since been charged with several counts of burglary as well as arson and is currently awaiting trial.

    The South Carolina Forestry Commission began a study of firefighter arson in 1993. They wanted to know how often firefighter related arson was occurring in the state. It was discovered that 33 volunteer firefighters had been charged with the crime of arson with that number rising to 47 the in 1994. Through their research, the SCFC soon developed a profile on the firefighter arsonist. This study revealed that on average the firefighter arsonist was a white male ranging in age from 17 to 25. He was of average to above average intelligence with possibly a less than stellar educational history. Most of the cases were young men with low self esteem that had little association with anything other than the fire service.

    Around the same time the Federal Bureau of Investigation developed their own independent profile for the firefighter arsonist. The FBI study varied slightly however for the most part was eerily similar.

    Criminal Arson Profiler Timothy Huff spent years tracking firefighter arsonist incidents. He studied 25 cases of firefighter arsonists and found that the primary motive was excitement. This was especially true in the younger firefighters of the investigation. It was found that of 182 fires investigated, 75 firefighters were involved! Most of these fires were field fires, grass fires and all around nuisance incidents. It was noted that some did eventually “graduate” to structures with some devastating results.

    In 1996, after the study, awareness training was taught by the South Carolina State Arson Investigators Association. The word on the street was “do the crime, prepare to do the time”. It was apparent that they meant business. That same year known cases of firefighter arson was reduced dramatically to 3 from the 30 cases in 1995. Since 1990, 150 firefighters have been arrested in South Carolina for the crime of Arson.

    On July 1st 2001, the South Carolina General Assembly signed into law the “Firefighter Employment and Registration Act”. This was a major step towards tackling the problem of firefighter arsonists. It states that after June 30th, 2001 anyone that is to be hired by a fire department in South Carolina must submit to a background investigation before employment. It goes on to say that after June 30th, 2001, a person must not perform firefighting duties in South Carolina if the person has been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to:

    (a) a felony;
    (b) arson or any other offense provided in Article 3, Chapter 11, Title 16; or
    (c) an offense involving a controlled substance as provided for in Chapter 53,Title 44.


    This stays in effect for ten years after the conviction or plea of guilty or nolo contendere. After the expiration of the ten-year period, it is within a fire chief's or other employer's discretion to determine whether or not to allow a person with a criminal record to perform firefighting duties.


    For a full reading of this law and more information on how to register a potential employ for a background check, please visit http://www.scfiremen.com/ff_registration.htm

    How often does this occur?

    No one knows exactly how many incidences of firefighter arson occur yearly. This is mainly due to a lack of a credible nationwide database of these crimes. Often information does not get forwarded for a variety of reasons such as…

    Firefighters do not commit arson.
    The fear of a suspicion of a firefighter will be in error.
    Fear of suspicions being made public. The impact on fire department morale. It is known that more often than not members of the volunteer ranks are most likely to commit these crimes. Lt. Doug Ross, Arson investigator of the South Law Enforcement Division, says that firefighter arson is “almost significantly a volunteer problem”. He goes onto say that they come from all walks of life. From high school dropouts to college educated. The one common factor was they were all volunteers. Part of this reason may be that 75% of the firefighting force in the United States is of volunteer status.

    This however does not preclude paid or career firefighters from committing arson. One of the most infamous cases of this was of a former chief arson investigator Captain John Orr of the Glendale California Fire Department. His uncanny instincts about how an arson fire had started as well as discovering devices that arsonists used made him a legend. However these instincts would soon turn to inside knowledge when it was discovered that Orr himself had set the fires. It is estimated that he may have contributed to over 2000 fires. One fire in a hardware store resulted in the deaths of four people. He is serving life in prison for these crimes.

    There are several possible reasons to explain why some firefighters commit arson. They include excitement, vandalism, revenge or possibly crime concealment. Terrorism has even a motive. In Alabama, several African American church fires were tracked to white firefighters. You will often hear of other reasons however most investigators believe firefighter arsonists have some sort of mental instability. They rationalize to themselves that they need to prove they are a hero or wanting to practice their skills or maybe they will do it to earn extra money.

    The Public’s perception

    Firefighting is a heroic profession that only a few brave souls can truly perform. We are held in high regard by the general public. We are seen as icons in the very stability of the community. Yet when a firefighter is accused of arson, it can shake a department to its very foundations. All of the hard work that went in to building public trust has gone out the door because of one or more person’s foolish acts.

    A hard line on these crimes must be taken to insure that the community is to feel safe again. We need to prove that we can police our own when a few go bad. With the fire service fighting day in and day out to keep federal funding flowing we should be hard pressed to assist in the prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.

    This is not an invitation to start a witch hunt. With the implementation of the new Firefighter Registration Law and hard and constant prosecution of those that break the law, the statistics will continue to drop.

    Remember one firefighter arsonist is one too many.

    "Everyone within the fire service must be, and should be, prepared to admit that there is a problem and that precise, firm methods are needed to combat this situation. To ignore the problem or suggest that it does not exist will only increase the damage caused by the arson firefighters involved, as well as destroy the morale of the other firefighters in their departments. There is a problem, we cannot ignore the problem, we must talk to our members about firefighter arson. We must investigate, charge and convict those that are committing this crime." Excerpt from the USFA “Major Fire Investigation Program” Firefighter Arson Special Report

    Sources contributing to this editorial:
    Lt. Doug Ross, Arson Investigator for the SC Law Enforcement Division

    United States Fire Administration Technical Report on Firefighter Arson January 2003

    CBS 60 Minutes II “To Close to the Fire” November 2002

    National Volunteer Fire Council Special Report “Firefighter Arson” August 1994
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com

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    A background check for the sole purpose of screening for potential arsonists would be frutiless for the most part.
    Well, you haven't done enough research. Go research Tim Huff's full report that was published in the IAFC publication about 10 years ago. Tim's conclusion, which I fully agree with, is that a properly conducted psychological exam could weed out the vast majority of the potential arsonists.

    Also, I know Doug Ross. Doug is one of the finest and most committed fire investigators in this country. I am fairly certain that he would also take exception with your research.

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    I am fairly certain that he would also take exception with your research.
    Well said GW... I have read information from Tim Huff on this matter. I wish I could have written more in my article, but I think everyone gets the jist of the subject matter.
    Always remember the CHARLESTON 9

    Captain Grant Mishoe, Curator of History
    North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum
    "You'll never know where you're going until you remember where you came from"
    www.legacyofheroes.org
    www.firehistory.org
    www.sconfire.com

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    Originally posted by GeorgeWendtCFI


    Well, you haven't done enough research. Go research Tim Huff's full report that was published in the IAFC publication about 10 years ago. Tim's conclusion, which I fully agree with, is that a properly conducted psychological exam could weed out the vast majority of the potential arsonists.

    Also, I know Doug Ross. Doug is one of the finest and most committed fire investigators in this country. I am fairly certain that he would also take exception with your research.
    GW,

    I probably should have been more specific as to " background check". I was referring to a criminal background check. I have read the report and I agree psych is the way to go.

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    Can someone define a properly conducted psychological exam? Is this something that can be done by department personnel and included in their normal application process?

    Here's a recent case from Ohio that resulted in probation for the 3 firefighters involved:

    http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sho...threadid=63651

    What kind of message does that send?
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Can someone define a properly conducted psychological exam? Is this something that can be done by department personnel and included in their normal application process?
    Please explain how someone, who may be a plumber, salesman, dentist or whatever for his real job, would be even remotely qualified to conduct a psychological examination?

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    Originally posted by WTFD10 andGeorgeWendtCFI

    WTFD10:Can someone define a properly conducted psychological exam? Is this something that can be done by department personnel and included in their normal application process? WTFD

    George Wendt CFI: Please explain how someone, who may be a plumber, salesman, dentist or whatever for his real job, would be even remotely qualified to conduct a psychological examination?
    They slept at a Holiday Inn Express last night?

    Just kidding...you need a pshrink to conduct a psych exam. Why do we fight fires and not let John Q do it for themselves?

    We have the training, the tools, the PPE and the talent... the same thing goes for letting pshrinks do the weeding out of the whackos!
    ‎"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

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    Although I'll agree that an extensive background check is the way to go including possibly a physc. evaluation the reality is simple.

    No $$$ to conduct the physc. and extensive back-ground checks. - Today's Volunteer Service is plauged with numerous recruitment and retention problems without the red tape...imiagine what the impact would be if we sent new recruits to shrinks ? and who pays for it ? The Fire Company....Don't think so...Better plan for additional Pan-Cake Breakfasts and Ham Suppers to afford this one. -- Do you make the potential Member pay ? If you do They'll never go through with it....Why should one pay to volunteer....Most would stop their application process right there. I know I would.

    George Wendt is right applicants need to be screened much better than they are how do we handle this ? - Since I've seen No suggestions on how to curve the situation I'll try a few

    1. - Send a member of the Membership Committee through a course on how to interview and screen individuals - We dump too much on volunteer officers and because they;re officers they think they have the ultimate control - Make someone accountable for who comes through the door.

    2. - Start a mentouring program in the fire house... Make new members accountable to to a senior member and that senior members responsibility is to monitor the probies progress through out the first year at a minimum - That senior member should provide a monthly or bi-monthly report at an officers meeting so that those in charge are kept up to speed

    3. - Watch the newbie....After they walk into the firehouse and get their gear...Don't just forget about them....Take the time to find out a little about them - Get to know them. - After all he/she may need to save your life one day

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    Originally posted by BD6413
    Although I'll agree that an extensive background check is the way to go including possibly a physc. evaluation the reality is simple.

    No $$$ to conduct the physc. and extensive back-ground checks. - Today's Volunteer Service is plauged with numerous recruitment and retention problems without the red tape...imiagine what the impact would be if we sent new recruits to shrinks ? and who pays for it ? The Fire Company....Don't think so...Better plan for additional Pan-Cake Breakfasts and Ham Suppers to afford this one. -- Do you make the potential Member pay ? If you do They'll never go through with it....Why should one pay to volunteer....Most would stop their application process right there. I know I would.

    George Wendt is right applicants need to be screened much better than they are how do we handle this ? - Since I've seen No suggestions on how to curve the situation I'll try a few

    1. - Send a member of the Membership Committee through a course on how to interview and screen individuals - We dump too much on volunteer officers and because they;re officers they think they have the ultimate control - Make someone accountable for who comes through the door.

    2. - Start a mentouring program in the fire house... Make new members accountable to to a senior member and that senior members responsibility is to monitor the probies progress through out the first year at a minimum - That senior member should provide a monthly or bi-monthly report at an officers meeting so that those in charge are kept up to speed

    3. - Watch the newbie....After they walk into the firehouse and get their gear...Don't just forget about them....Take the time to find out a little about them - Get to know them. - After all he/she may need to save your life one day
    Psych exams are mandatory for career FF and police in NJ. There is no reason why they can't be mandatory for the vol. service as well. Paying for it will vary, but there are options, such as EAP's and the potential vols work health benefits, working with a community mental health center, working with a post graduate medical school, gratis arrangements with local mental health providers, etc.

    George Wendt never said that volunteers need to be screened better. George Wendt has sasid a billion times that volunteer fire departments and municipalities and national organizations like the NVFC (hahahaha) and the USFA need to take responsibility for this situation before one of our own kills one of our own.

    And BTW, many people on here have offered many suggesitons on this problem in the approximately 6 other threads that have been posted regarding FF arson. Perhaps a little research would help you find them.

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    Oh, crap, I better have the boys tie me up and lock me in the equipment room because I fit the profile and I might start lighting fires off when I'm bored

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    zootx..

    This is a serious topic!
    ‎"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

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    Thanks for the sarcastic answer George.

    Let me rephrase my question:

    If there is a standard psychological profile that a firefighter arsonist fits, why couldn't a standardized psychological questionarre be developed that could be filled out during the application process? Questionable results could then be subjected to further scrutiny.

    No, it's not a perfect solution but it's better than nothing. Which is exactly what you're likely to get if the department or the applicant has to pay for a psychological profile given by a mental health professional.
    FTM-PTB-DTRT

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    Originally posted by WTFD10
    Thanks for the sarcastic answer George.

    Let me rephrase my question:

    If there is a standard psychological profile that a firefighter arsonist fits, why couldn't a standardized psychological questionarre be developed that could be filled out during the application process? Questionable results could then be subjected to further scrutiny.

    No, it's not a perfect solution but it's better than nothing. Which is exactly what you're likely to get if the department or the applicant has to pay for a psychological profile given by a mental health professional.
    It may have been sarcastic, but it is very obvious, also.

    There probably is a standardized form. But that form would require a professional subjective interpretation. Also, there is a face-to-face interview involvedin the process. You just don't fill out a piece of paper and find out if the person is at risk.

    Having the local car salesman do the evaluation would open the FD up to a can of worms you could not imagine.

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    I don't understand why dudes gotta light fires when they are bored. We usually just use a Potato Gun/Launcher when the boredom sets in....
    Proud Right-Wing Extremist since 1992

    "Extreme Liberalism is a Mental Disorder"- Michael Savage

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    What would the practicality be on requiring volly jobs to do psych tests? With career departments, and this is no slam, generally speaking the guys are there for a long time. Generally speaking for 20 or more years. Not all, but the majority.
    What is the turnover rate in the average volly job? Would it be more cost effective to conduct these exams? Let's face it, cost will be an absolute consideration, especially in the times that we live in.
    I certainly don't think you would want to put the cost of an exam/test onto the candidate, my opinion on that would be a potential for a decrease in potential recruitment. I would have to guess that these exams are rather pricey, anytime someone attache's a Phd to their name, I believe the cost goes up.
    I think this is a very serious matter,many people on here have fought to point out that volly/career is no differant. That applies here as well. It tarnishes and reflects very poorly on firefighters. It also has the potential to lose the trust of the public.

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