We all agree that the death of Chris Kangas was tragic. We all agree that he should be recognized and remembered for his contributions to his fire department as a member of the Explorer program. So, erect a monument in his honor, put black bunting over his photo at the stationhouse, honor him every year with a memorial service, lobby the state legislature for recognition, but don't ask the DOJ to change the rules for PSOB.
There are too many exceptions becoming the rules. It needs to stop.
Chris Kangas was enroute to the fire station when he was killed. Car, bike, go cart; it doesn't matter. What does matter is, that, had he reached the station, he was STILL an Explorer junior firefighter. See; Chris was still reaching for his dream to become a firefighter some day. Unfortunately, at the time of his death, he wasn't there, yet. He was 14 years old, could not participate in all facits of firefighting and under DOJ criteria, could not "fit" the definition of "firefighter". That's a fact. So, we all make emotional pleas to CHANGE it. But, it shouldn't be. If anything, create a new category away from the DOJ PSOB program for "support" personnel. Whatever.
The analogy of overweight, out of shape, no nothings as hard as it is to say it ARE firefighters under the rules and if departments are willing to put them on their active rosters regardless of their physical shape, criminal background, etc., then unfortunately, they fit the definition of "firefighter". That doesn't make it right, but they are the rules.
The problem with some of you is that you believe a wrong has occurred and it hasn't. The right decision was made under the law and people are wanting an exception made in this case. I admire Chris Kangas and appreciate his service to his fire department, but unfortunately, the parameters under which he conducted activities for his fire department do not meet the parameters of the DOJ PSOBs program.
He deserves to be honored and remembered forever.
But as an Explorer junior firefighter who died while responding to a call.
No more; no less.
Rest in peace, Chris Kangas.