1. #51
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    Default Firefighters aren't plumbers

    Quote Originally Posted by DennisTheMenace
    If a Union plumber burns himself helping out his neighbor install a hottub on the weekend, should his employer have to cover the treatment for the injury?
    Firefighters aren't plumbers. Firefighting isn't just a job, if it were we wouldn't have badges.

    Firefighters are public servants, just as police officers are. If an off-duty cop witnesses the commission of a violent felony and decides not intercede, s/he has failed the public trust. If an off-duty firefighter is present during a mass-casualty incident and decides not to help, then s/he has also failed the public trust.

    Would the situation have been different if the incident occured within the firefighter's own city of employment, even if he was off-duty?

    I understand the legal position of the City of Cranston, although by not taking care of their own Firefighter the city itself is violating the public trust. This certified Firefighter wasn't freelancing, he checked-in with the Incident Commander ( I asusme the LT of the first-arriving apparatus was the IC at the time) and did what the IC directed him to do. He was acting as a defacto Volunteer Firefighter during the incident; perhaps West Warwick's insurance should cover him, since he was pressed into service by a West Warwick officer.

    Whatever the legal outcome, my solution to prevent other incidents is this: work with state legislators to pass laws codifying a "duty to act" and protecting "state-certified" Firefighters when they respond to an emergency -whether on-duty or off in their own city, or in another city within the same state, or states with mutual aid pacts.

    A Sodier is a Soldier, 24/7
    A Cop is a Cop, 24/7
    and a Firefighter is a Firefighter, 24/7

    Greenman

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    Quote Originally Posted by THTMAN
    The city says they will not cover him because he was "off duty", but I bet if he was to get into trouble with the law when "off duty" they would be bringing Department charges against him. What's the difference between the two?

    I agree, if one of us where to get a DWI while "off duty" we would certainly be suspended at the very least if not right out fired. Whats the difference?

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    Alright I know I'm new,only been in for 3 years. But am I missing something here? Aren't we taught that our safety comes first? While Mr. Burgess was fighting this fire feeling the heat of the fire, didn't something click and he should have thought hey this is getting hot, I shouldn't be here?
    Before everyone jumps, let me say put in the same situation I'd get involved too. But knowing that I didn't have the right protection there's a time to back off. He wasn't responsible for all of those people. Yes. I know you get caught in the (no pun intended) heat of the situation and do what you need to do, but personal safety should come first. Just as everyone says "Stay Safe." He probably should've done what his girlfriend did and gone across the street and helped there.

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    Default someone finally said it...

    bcarey finally put in writing what I was thinking the whole time....

    I come from an all volunteer fire department. No one is paid, not even the chief. And our training would be considered hysterical to all of you. Kind of the blind leading the blind. But even a blind man could tell when his eye brows are getting burned!

    I’m not saying that I wouldn’t have helped. I’m sure most of us would have done the same thing, gone up and said, “Hey, I’m a firefighter how can I help?” It’s after that point that it seems to have all gone down hill.

    What was the IC thinking? I know my bunker gear won’t fit up my sleeve. Or maybe the IC thought he had his Superman spandex suit under his jeans and T-shirt. Was the IC wrong to ask him to JOIN in and help? No. Was he wrong to tell him to take a hose line up to the burning building? Yes. And if he didn’t look at the IC and tell him, “No, I will not do that. How else can I help?”, then in my opinion, he was drinking.

    He was put into duty by the IC who is a firefighter in the fire department which is run by the city. Yes, the city should pay him. And the IC should get reamed. And he should get his hand slapped for putting himself BACK into a dangerous situation.

    (You know what is stupid… the city is going to bill and fine the club and the entertainment company for starting a fire! But they won’t pay a tenth of what they will get.)

    Does he have PTSD? I’ll bet he does. But not from fighting the fire. Everyone who came out of the club alive is probably in therapy. And sending a bill to the club and entertainment company. Shouldn’t he also?

  5. #55
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    Default from the very front page of the site .........

    Rhode Island: Should Firefighter Have Jumped into Emergency?


    Updated: 01-19-2006 11:38:19 AM

    DANIEL BARBARISI

    Firehouse Forum Discussion: When is a firefighter not a firefighter?

    CRANSTON -- When is a firefighter not a firefighter?

    Steven Burgess thought he was a firefighter the night The Station nightclub burned to the ground. He went as a concertgoer, out on a date.

    But as the fire consumed the club, the Cranston firefighter joined West Warwick's Fire Department, fire hose in hand, as they fought the blaze -- standing close enough that the heat burned his clothes and singed his eyebrows off.

    The City of Cranston saw it differently. While he acted heroically and deserved praise, the city said, Burgess was no firefighter that night; he was a private citizen doing what he could to help.

    Cranston denied his request for injured-on-duty status when he sought treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder stemming from the events of that night, Feb. 20, 2003.

    Surprised, Burgess and the fire union appealed to an arbitrator, who agreed with the city last summer -- Burgess deserved praise, the arbitrator said, but not city coverage.

    "It was kind of shocking. I thought you're here to serve and protect life and property, 24 hours a day," Burgess said of the result.

    Now, Burgess said, something eats away at him. The next time, would he be so quick to jump in and help? Will other firefighters rush to throw themselves into danger when off-duty, knowing that their families will not be covered if something happens to them?

    He says he would do the same thing again. But there is a tinge of doubt.

    "There's a line there now, that you never understand why it's there -- you think, where did this come from? What happened?"

    STEVEN BURGESS had seen fire before, but always from behind the relative safety of his firefighter's mask.

    But when the flames shot up during the first moments of Great White's set, his blood turned to ice.

    Burgess, now 36, was there to see a band from his youth, hang out with some friends he knew at the club. He had played there before as a member of the Newport-based rock band, Those Guys, and knew the layout and the staff well. He'd been around the club before in a professional capacity as well, having spent 1996 to 2000 as a West Warwick firefighter before joining Cranston.

    Within 20 seconds of the fire starting, he knew the flames were more than a fire extinguisher could handle. He told a bartender friend of his to leave immediately, and then turned to his date.

    "You're not going to believe what you're going to see. I want you to get out of here," he told her.

    He led her into the club's kitchen, and opened a side door out just as the crowd at large began to realize that something had gone horribly wrong, and began streaming toward the front door.

    Burgess told his date to go across the street, and headed back to the kitchen door. He opened it, thinking to lead others out that way. He was immediately overcome by smoke, and pulled back.

    "If I went back in, I knew I wasn't coming out," he said.

    He ran along the burning building to the front entrance, where he joined several others in dragging survivors through the club's broken windows. Burgess sliced up his hands and arms on the glass.

    Moments later, the first West Warwick fire truck arrived.

    Burgess ran up to the truck. He saw a friend, Lt. Roger St. Jean, from his days in West Warwick.

    "There's 100 people trapped up against that door," Burgess said he told St. Jean.

    St. Jean looked over the situation, and then told Burgess to "grab a line" for himself and another firefighter, and keep water on the door to keep it cool.

    That "order," the union later said, transformed Burgess from a private citizen to a firefighter doing his job.

    He ran to the West Warwick truck, unfurled a hose line, and began shooting water onto the building's front door.

    Burgess stood 15 feet from the fire and held his line. "It was amazing how hot that was," he said, having never been so close before without his gear on.

    Soon the truck ran out of water. As more firefighters arrived on-scene, Burgess ran to secure other water sources and pump water to the front lines.

    As better-equipped firefighters -- including a contingent from Cranston -- arrived by the truckload, he found a West Warwick battalion chief, and told him that he was going to go look for his date.

    He wandered for close to an hour, until he found her across the street at the Cowesett Inn, tending to burn victims. Medical personnel wanted to keep him at the inn because of his cuts and heat exposure, but he persuaded a firefighter at one of the back doors to let him leave. Steven Burgess went home.

    THE ISSUE of where the line between on-duty and off-duty falls is not new; firefighters generally know that if they help a person on the side of the road, any injuries they incur will not be covered.

    But Burgess' case is different, his union said. The scope of the disaster aside, Burgess joined a firefighting operation in progress, and was ordered to "grab a line" by a West Warwick fire officer.

    "You cannot neglect a fire officer's order to help," said Paul Valletta, president of Local 1363 of the International Association of Firefighters in Cranston. During Burgess' arbitration, Valletta cited several provisions of state law that he said meant Burgess could have faced prosecution if he had not helped when asked.

    Chief Robert Warren of Cranston said he would have been "disappointed" had Burgess not helped, and Chief Charles D. Hall of West Warwick, said that if he had learned that Burgess had been there and not joined the firefighting, he would have taken him to task.

    "In our profession, there's an unspoken duty to perform. Refusal to act, to me, is almost a chargeable offense. If he had not assisted? I think I would have had something to say about it," Hall said.

    Burgess said he knows this ethos well. If he hadn't helped, his fellow firefighters in Cranston would never have looked at him the same way.

    "I would have been alienated. My next 20 years would have been real tough."

    But helping took its toll.

    IT WAS the morning after the fire, and Burgess had not slept. He sat in his chair, the television on, as the phone calls started to trickle in.

    He had the day off, and he spent it in that one spot, He sat and stared at the television for 24 hours straight, ignoring the phone and the messsages that flooded his answering machine as concerned friends and family called to check on him.

    He was rattled -- shocked, he said. The idea of seeing a fire truck made him nauseous.

    He took one day off, to clear his head, and was told by the Fire Department that he would be placed on injured-on-duty status. He took the day, and then returned to work.

    "I kind of forced myself to come back. I almost threw up on the way there," he said.

    He tried to bury himself in the job. But as the months went on, the images of the inside of that club never went away.

    "I had a problem every time I got in the shower. I kept trying to wash it off. It wouldn't come off," he said.

    He went to counseling, and to his family doctor, where he was prescribed antidepressant medication. He was curious, however, as to why he had to pay his copays for the doctor visits and the medication. Wasn't he on injured-on-duty? Doesn't the city pick up those costs?

    It was then that Burgess learned that the city had denied his claim.

    "I didn't understand. I had assumed everything was taken care of," he said.

    PAUL G. GRIMES, director of administration for Mayor Stephen P. Laffey, said that he was impressed by Burgess' actions, but after consulting with the city's labor lawyers, believed that giving Burgess injured-on-duty status would be a precedent-setting blurring of the line between on- and-off duty.

    "It was very clear that the right thing to do was to keep that line of off-duty in place," Grimes said. Just because the incident was the famous Station nightclub fire and not an injury incurred assisting a stranded motorist is no reason to respond differently.

    "It's a very emotional subject. It's emotional for everybody in the state of Rhode Island. But that shouldn't color our decision," he said.

    "Maybe it makes us the bogeyman -- but I think reasonable people understand."

    Additionally, Grimes said that the union's argument that he was ordered to assist is specious. A West Warwick lieutenant has no jurisdiction over a Cranston firefighter.

    Then the negotiations began. The union and the Laffey administration have notoriously bad relations, but Valletta said that "with all the fights I've had with this administration, it never crossed my mind that they would deny it."

    "They should have been giving this kid commendations, and instead they turned their back on him," he said.

    Valletta said he understood the administration's argument that it feared setting a precedent. But the city can make exceptions when it chooses; in 1983, Cranston paid the funeral expenses of a firefighter who was killed responding to an accident on his way to work.

    Valletta offered to sign a letter saying that if the city gave Burgess injured-on-duty status, it would not set any sort of legal or anecdotal precedent. Grimes refused, saying the letter was a smokescreen.

    "Does it really not set a precedent? It's almost like a dance. Of course,it sets a precedent," Grimes said.

    "If we would have granted him injured-on-duty status, boy, that be a tough one to prove against if he goes for a disability pension," he said.

    Burgess vehemently denies that he would ever want a pension -- he said it was hard enough for him to swallow his pride and ask his doctor about a potential stress disorder, and to talk to reporters now.

    The union filed a grievance against the city, and took the issue to arbitration. The arbitrator said that he sympathized with Burgess, but last summer denied the union's position. The city's contract with its union, arbitrator Lawrence Katz wrote, defines the line between on- and off-duty -- clearly.
    IACOJ both divisions and PROUD OF IT !
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    http://www.firehouse.com/forums/show...60#post1137060post 115

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    Angry West Warwick Responsible

    What we all have to remember is this guy acted because he was NEEDED. West Warwick runs with 2 guys on a piece. The closest station was a few hundred yards up the street…but with only two guys on that engine and very few fire fighters coming with the first alarm; Burgess had no choice but to help. Don’t forget he was previously employed by West Warwick FD; he was well aware of their staffing situation. He knew there wasn’t going to be enough help for quite some time.

    So, who’s responsible is it for having two guys on a pump and for having so few fire fighters on duty that night? The City of West Warwick. The level of involvement by Fire Fighter Burgess, and the resulting injuries, was the result of insufficient staffing. Even if twenty guys arrived within the first few minutes Burgess’s help would have been needed. His role would have been support, not suppression and his injuries would have been less likely.

    The Cranston union and Fire Firefighter Burgess went after the wrong municipality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190
    1) Shouldn't the Club's insurance be covering these costs?

    Da ya honestly think any nightclub owned by two local brothers in the U.S. covers sufficient insurance TO COVER 100 FREAKING DEATHS, never mind all the injuries & other liabilities?

    "Hi Geico, yeah, um how much is the premium for a one billion dollar insurance policy?"

    2) The Mayor of Cranston is a mutt. He recently billed the Union for the use of apparatus when the Union gave a presentation on firefighting equipment & basic tactics to the City Council.

    3) I don't know about the career guys, and this is a different state, but under Connecticut's worker's comp law for Volunteer Firefighters, this situation would have been black-and-white that it was covered by worker's compensation by the volunteer's home department.

    Which I guess means know your local laws 'cause they can be quirky.
    Volunteer firefighters are not covered under RI workers comp laws. As for the Dedarian brothers (owners) they didn't even have workers comp insurance for their employees. They have been cited $1 million dollars by the state for failure to carry wc insurance.

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    If we had to spend 30 minutes writing up procedures as for what happens when we are injured for every special case (including: jumping in to assist neighboring departments of which we are not members), we wouldn't get **** done. It isn't our job to spend all day worrying about such compensation. It seems as though the cities of Cranston and West Warwick should be able to share responsibility and work together (yeah, I know, I'm talking funny) to help this firefighter.

    I really hope that someone stops and realizes the helpful nature of FF Burgess. I'm sure that Burgess was not thinking about compensation at all while manning the nozzle or directing victims through the smoke to exits, but when he went for treatment, he was expecting at least some help.

    Whether the Officer of the West Warwick FD told him to help or not should not even be an issue. Or that he was once a member of the West Warwick FD. It seems from the articles that Burgess did exactly what should be done in this situation. He saw maybe 4 FFs and 100+ panicked victims. He offered to help, and did what the on-duty FFs asked (No freelancing? That's so...weird).

    It would be nice to know why he was put on the nozzle with no gear, but I'm guessing the lack of firefighters initially on scene had something to do with that. I'm sure there are even more details to the story than what is posted so far.

    But, To answer the Q:

    When is a firefighter not a firefighter?

    Maybe when the streets of Hell are lined with working hydrants.

    But since when do city officials know anything about the firefighters who keep keep their taxpayers alive?

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    Thumbs up how true

    Quote Originally Posted by MIKEYLIKESIT
    Did his department respond on mutual aid ? If so, shouldnt he be covered? Sounds like the city is being cheap and vindictive. I would have liked to hear all the moaning from the peanut gallery if he did nothing to assist. This was a once-in-a lifetime event for these departments. (hopefully) and special situations should be handled as such.
    i absolutely agree they would of called him everything but a firefighter. heck he probably would of been fired....amazing huh!

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    Exhibit One that some people, well, far too many Americans believe and think in the mindset that we live in a perfect world:

    So, with regard to accountablitity and safety, as soon as the officer is relieved, did he have Mr. Burgess withdrawl from the scene? That's a department liability right there.

    Ok, so where does the greater liability exist:

    1) Stopping on-going firefighting operations to take an effective attendance

    2) Continue to put water on the fire and effect rescues.

    There is no department in the world that has an accountability system strong enough to handle a situation like that, it's not reasonable to expect anyone to have a system effective enough to handle it, and there are far higher priorities.

    Y'all are recalling, we're not talking about a hypothetical situation ****ed up beyond all belief, but an actual one?

    5200 square foot building, heavy fire shown, known multiple victims trapped, TWO HUNDRED FRICKING CASUALTIES ALREADY OUTSIDE, the worse loss of life in the U.S. by fire in 25 years, a fire that isn't just a "career" fire but one that from the moment you pull up you know will be still discussed in fire service books fifty years from now like the Coconut Grove or the Beverly Hills Supper Club. Resources, including cover companies, being called in from a 30 mile radius.

    We're not talking about what needs to be done to establish a security perimeter, what you might be doing in an hour, how you'll provide accountability at a sustained operation over the next six months...we're talking about a situation when there was immediate life-saving operations in progress and the scope was far beyond any officially on-duty, uniform resources on scene could handle.

    Sorry for the vent, but jeepers, don't go down the "well, there was liability because..." trail on trivial things compared to the scope of that incident.

    We don't live in a perfect world, you do the best with what you have and you try to fix what you wished you could've done better afterwards.
    Last edited by Dalmatian190; 01-19-2006 at 10:34 PM.

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    Steve Burgess acted in "Good Faith." The problem arises with the contract this Steve and his local opperates under. If the contract clearly states, he is off duty, then he is of duty. If Cranston does not recognize recall or call back personnel, then Steve is outside of the contract and policy. I feel for Steve and what he has gone through. Been there, done that. Sometimes, you just have to lick your wounds and move on.

    I see others have written about another incident. There are similarities and differentials in the comparisons. I also remember a movie made of a similar incident called "TURK 182." Again similar and different at the same time.

    The City of Cranston has to watch for presidence, however, the contract could be renegotiated to hold case by case circumstances applicable. West Warwick has nothing to offer Steve, since he was not operating under thier perview. And as far as the insurance from the Station doing anything, there are cases of Firefighters hurt and killed at fires, where the owners and the insurance companies have been found not liable for payment, due to the job we do.

    Steve is between the proverbial rock and hard place. If we had any type of brotherhood or family desire for our fellow Firefighters hurt while not on duty, we would take up a collection for him to assist in his medical bills.

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    Angry

    I think this is ridiculous. Has anyone ever heard of the duty to act? Now I know by law he isn't required to help. But I would have done the same in that situation, and hope any other firefighter would also. The fact that he was ordered by an officer should also play a role. I don't care what department I am at, if an officer gives me an order, by damn I do it. He may not have been "on duty," but as a public servant I believe you are always on duty. This whole thing is just a bunch of penny pushing politicians trying to save a buck. This just isn't fair to Steve Burgess or his family. I don't think it's right that the city officials can't even take care of their own firefighters. They have no idea about the duties, heart or mindset of a firefighter. They are a special kind of people. I am sure they would think much different about this if one of them were in the club that night. They are in this business to help and save our communities. Isn't that enough there to at least pay for the damn medical bill? Steve did an awesome thing and I am proud to know that there are firefighters out there who don't just work when "on duty," but dedicate their lives to it.

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    Default BROTHERs only when on duty???

    What!!!!!!!!!! All I am hearing is BOTHERS talking about if a BROTHER was right or wrong. What city should foot the bill for his injuries. If he was a citizen at that time. So please tell me this. AM I only a BROTHER when I am on duty? No, I think not. Do we all belong to a different Union or the same Union with diffrent locals? All that should be mentioned here is Good job Steve. Don't worry about what city is going to take care of you. Because Your brothers from around the nation will help you. You shouldn't have worry about your hospital bills or which city is paying them. Because you acted as anyone of us would have. I challenge all brothers/Locals to step up up and help out a brother with a check to his local, come on what is 50.00 or 100.00 dollars. Not much to our locals but I bet it is more than enough to him and his Family. I'll be hitting up my local next shift.


    "Let no day end without making a difference in someone else's life"
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    Reading comprehension is a lost art. No one is saying he did wrong. Some are saying the town should pay a FF's costs, some are not. Let's try to stay on topic.
    "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?

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    Well said kevmar, not all of the FDNY guys were on duty. If I remember correctly, many of them just went on the call before the All Call.

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    Here is another idea, Since the owners were found to be grosly NEGLIGENT in the fire. Have the owners pay up, the deserve to pay for any and all injuries that occured. BTW, anyone know where that case is in the courts right now?

    In response to a thread earlier, if the department fired that guy, just think of the fire and Sh** storm that would start.
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    Why wasn't there a critical incident stress debriefing after the incident for all those involved including the fire fighter in question? I don't know if that would have helped him but you never know.

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    being a firefighter isnt a normal job. you dont stop being a firefighter when go home from a shift, or when u take a holiday...you are still a firefighter, and always will be. if you have the skills, you should use them. firefighting isnt about whether you are getting paid or not, or whether you are officially on duty. firefighting is about saving lifes. those hundreds of people lifes are obviously way more important than following the official guidelines of the department, which would result in 2 firefighters responding for the first few minutes! Burgress had the skills to help out, he is a firefighter and is trained, and obviously has experience. it would be stupid for him to endanger other peoples lifes by not acting because he is not officially on duty. mabye he did go overboard by staying in the heat and danger as long as he did, but essentially he did the right thing for humanity, by trying to save other humans lifes. would it be wrong for a cop to stand by and watch a criminal mug somebody? would it be wrong for a doctor to walk past a person having a heart attack and not help because he is on his lunch break? of course it would be. the city chould stop thinking about its own finances and think about the lifes of its citizens. surely they are worth more then a few hundred dollars to give a hero his medical attention....

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    Quote Originally Posted by ta2edff
    What!!!!!!!!!! All I am hearing is BOTHERS talking about if a BROTHER was right or wrong. What city should foot the bill for his injuries. If he was a citizen at that time. So please tell me this. AM I only a BROTHER when I am on duty? No, I think not. Do we all belong to a different Union or the same Union with diffrent locals? All that should be mentioned here is Good job Steve. Don't worry about what city is going to take care of you. Because Your brothers from around the nation will help you. You shouldn't have worry about your hospital bills or which city is paying them. Because you acted as anyone of us would have. I challenge all brothers/Locals to step up up and help out a brother with a check to his local, come on what is 50.00 or 100.00 dollars. Not much to our locals but I bet it is more than enough to him and his Family. I'll be hitting up my local next shift.


    "Let no day end without making a difference in someone else's life"
    Fire Chief Bill Lanford
    I totally agree, I understand this is a "disusssion" but at the same time why don't we as brothers just pony up and help FF Burgess ourselves. That would solve all the problems and stop the arguing. Whatever happened to taking care of our own. If anyone has any information on where to send donations or who to contact please leave the info. I know my dept will be more than happy to help out.

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    Default Common Sense

    Assist initially get people to evacuate, then back out of the way when resources arrive. You don't have protective clothing so if your close your to the action your problably going to get hurt. Our dept. is clear on what an off duty firefighter is to do if confronted with this situation. Come on when you are on duty if you don't have your stuff (PPE) you stand on the sidelines. No Helmet, gloves or boots you are just asking to get hurt and you become part of the problem.

    Use some common sense and if you take a risk you know the consequences.
    You open pandora's box if you start compensating off duty firefighters next he will be on the roof ventillating and fall through then what? No freelancing that's why people get hurt.

    Los Angeles, Ca.

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    There was CIS debriefing for all responders, don't know if Burgess took advantage of it.

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    We are trained to help in times of need. I have been doing this since 1988 and not one time have I thought" I dont feel like helping". This is what we do. The city has an obligation to cover him.Legally and morally. would anyone here not do the same thing in the same situation?? I thought so. hey just my opinion. And you know what they say about opinions.

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    I believe that an officer in one jurisdiction can "comandeer" a firefighter from another jurisdiction knowing the person is a duly qualified firefighter. My concern is the fact that he had no proper PPE and that is where the line should be drawn.

  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by fyrfytr462
    Well said kevmar, not all of the FDNY guys were on duty. If I remember correctly, many of them just went on the call before the All Call.
    yes, and it made accountability a nightmare when the towers came down, as you didn't know what additional personnel were on the rigs.

    but your comparing apples to oranges, in the case of 9/11, the call was in their coverage area, and they had proper PPE.

    in this case, he was not in his home town (where he worked) and he had no PPE.

    btw, the fact that west warrick was short handed (two on a rig)isn't really a factor. they know this, their higher ups know this, and while it does suck, it's how they operate.

    It doesn't change the situation, he helped out of the goodness of his heart, and his employer shouldn't pay for his medical expenses. now west warrick, that would be a different story.
    If my basic HazMat training has taught me nothing else, it's that if you see a glowing green monkey running away from something, follow that monkey!

    FF/EMT/DBP

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    Has anyone noticed the amount of first time posters on this thread? There have been quite a few!

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