Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A Leroy Jethro Gibbs Head Slap To My Fellow Professionals

FireGeezer has been running a series of articles on "promotional opportunities," openings in the upper ranks caused by various malefactions perpetrated by the incumbents. Usually -- but not always -- the offenses are various forms of embezzlement, theft, misappropriation, and other naughty uses of the department's resources.

As a volunteer firefighter/EMT whose department enjoys magnificent support from the taxpayers in town, I have to say something to the officers betraying the public trust:


With the economy the way it is these days, fire departments are favorite target for budget cutters: "they jes' sit there in th' fire house, snappin' they suspenduhs, takin' them trucks to go shoppin', an' why we need so many a them, ennyways?"

We need the public to trust us, to believe that when we ask for things, it's because we need them, not because it's cool to have these toys.

The economy is, as John McCain once said, "cratering." As a taxpayer, I want my money to be used effectively, for my benefit, and for the community's benefit, not the private benefit of some thieving officer. I want to know that my local fire department has the personnel, the training, the tools and equipment, and the ability to save MY life. I want to know the local ambulance has the fentanyl or morphine I need after a car crash, instead of finding out some junkie medic drew it out and refilled the ampule with water.

But this is reflective of an even greater problem in emergency services.

We think we're entitled to whatever we want, or want to do.

We're not.

Over the past year, there have been stories of firefighters flipping off photographers during a parade, firefighters having prostitutes in the fire station, medics stealing drugs, cops kicking handcuffed females because they felt "threatened" and a pile of other assorted crap.


Those of us in public service -- no, let's call it by it's correct name, CIVIL service -- have a responsibility to the public. Yeah, when I was a cop, I hated it when some citizen said "I pay your salary." Yeah, maybe the guy was an ass, but. BUT HE WAS RIGHT.

We get (hopefully) better-than-average pay, better-than-average insurance benefits (face it, how many burger flippers, investment bankers, or politicians get killed in the line of duty?), and worse-than-average working conditions, schedules, and uniforms.

In return, we owe the community that pays us. We need to do the best job we can; they deserve our best efforts. But what happens? We lie, we cheat, we steal. And then we wonder why the public doesn't love us anymore?

Back on June 13, 2011, Justin Schorr, the Happy Medic, posted a video of the funeral procession for SFFD Lt. Vincent Perez and FF/PM Anthony Valerio. In the video, a young boy, dressed in  kid's bunker gear, salutes the fallen as the trucks go by. Go. Read the post, watch the video, and come back. And don't try to tell me your eyes were dry at the end. The kid gets it. He really gets it. And not because his dad is a firefighter and his mom's a cop, he gets it because he was raised right, to respect those who sacrifice for others. (And, yeah, I was proud to see the Red Cross ERV [Emergency Response Vehicle] at 2:44).

If we want to be worthy of this child's respect, we have to EARN it. Not be being greedy, or cheap, or crooked, or slimy, but by being the best cops, firefighters, and medics we can be.

That child deserves no less, society deserves no less, and, you know what? WE deserve no less.


  1. Damn, dude, this may be your best post, yet. Great sentiments.

    1. JP, coming from a writer as gifted as you, that means a lot to me. Hope you and the missus make it through okay.

  2. Anger directs, it clarifies. I, myself, do my best blogging when I'm angry. It's just a matter of mastering and channeling your anger so it doesn't merely channel and control you.