Line Of Duty Deaths. Canadian Editorial Asks Why All The Fuss?

Editorial asks if we use LODDs to hype our profession and image.


An editorial in the Brantford Expositor by Christopher Brennan (no, not that Chris Brennan) takes up an issue with why aren’t the deaths of people if other dangerous (or more dangerous) professions given the same heraldry as those of firefighter and police officer line of duty deaths.

“Killed in the line of duty”
Chris Brennan

“So why is it when a logger or miner or fisher or farmer dies it rarely makes the news, but there’s a big hullabaloo when it’s a cop or firefighter?”

“I’ll venture to guess that popular culture has something to do with it. Cops carry guns and deal with criminals. Crime is a staple of books and movies and TV shows. You don’t see a lot of movies about fishers hauling in their catch or loggers cutting trees down. It’s mundane. Dangerous, but not thrilling. Perhaps if they shot fish with a hand gun or felled trees with a bazooka there would be more movies about them.”

A fair question for someone with a legitimate question who is looking into statistical research, but still a stretch in the comparison. It gets better,

“Maybe it’s got something to do with the idea of “heroism.” Chasing down a gun-toting criminal seems “heroic.” Rushing into a burning building and emerging with a child seems “heroic.””

“Plowing a field doesn’t conjure images of heroism. Neither does cutting down a tree. Or hauling in a net full of fish.”

“Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is these endeavors, while not exactly “heroic” or daring, are far more dangerous and potentially lethal than fighting crime or fires.”

“Cops and firefighters are happy to propagate the myth, especially at contract time, that their jobs are exceedingly dangerous. It’s self-serving but disingenuous.”

“Ah, but they selflessly sacrifice themselves for the “public good.” Ditch the martyr complex. Growing broccoli or roofing a house is just as socially beneficial as apprehending a shoplifter.””

I’ll admit that I personally see a discrepancy when we define our own (U.S.) line of duty deaths, in the traditional and non-traditional sense (s. Fire Service “Sabremetrics”). Likewise some of you that I have had the pleasure of discussing this with share a similar view. However I haven’t taken a cheap shot at the dead and their survivors by comparing their service to that of a farmer or a contractor. I have however questioned the process we use and others’ interpretation of the numbers. Brennan goes further in his editorial insulting line of duty death funerals as well,

“Another thing: The massive funeral processions for fallen comrades is getting a little stale and self-indulgent.”

“Enough, already. If every profession or occupation marked the death of one of its members the way cops and firefighters do the streets would be jammed with marching mourners 24 hours a day and the economy would grind to a halt.”

“Furthermore, an unintended consequence of the big funeral as public spectacle is that it serves to highlight how relatively rare it is when one of them to dies doing their job.”

“A particular uniform or occupation doesn’t entitle one to de facto hero status. All sorts of people in all sorts of jobs do courageous things everyday. So the next time a cop or firefighter dies and it’s all over the news take a moment to remember all the other people killed ‘in the line of duty’ doing jobs that are far more dangerous, but less glamorous. The only difference is you probably didn’t read or hear about them.””

Questioning line of duty deaths and all related processes is one thing, so long as it is done in a respectable manner. Simply insulting them because the “International Sprout Growers Association” doesn’t have one is childish.

I imagine some of you would like to share your opinion with Chris Brennan. He can be reached at chrisjbrennan@bell.net. A few things first though:

His views are on Canadian fire service LODDs.
You represent us all if you respond. Take the high road; be factual and professional. Don’t say that you hope his home were to catch on fire and he ended up needing firefighters. Doing that makes you lower than him.



We encourage and support constructive dialogue and debate. View our comment policy.





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5 Comments

  • Rhett Fleitz says:

    I just emailed him this…

    Chris,

    Thanks for the article. It helps us understand what others think of Police and Firefighters (of which I am one). It also continues to remind us that others simply do not understand what we do and why we do it.

    As for burying our brother and sister firefighters and police officers who have fallen…

    We do this because it is who we are and what we do. It is out of honor, respect, and loyalty.

    Honor for our profession

    Respect to their family and friends

    Loyalty to our tradition

    The only reason why you might see it is because the news covers it….and we appreciate them covering our stories.

    The reason why our funerals might get coverage (or more coverage than other funerals) is probably because of the showing we give out of honor, respect, and loyalty in addition to the shear number of uniformed personnel at the funerals typically.

    Maybe it is because our profession is viewed as being noble by some…our service, our dedication, and our willingness to lay down our lives for others.

    Why don’t the loggers, miners, farmers get the same type of funeral? Why don’t you ask them. That is their trade, their profession, their tradition, their lifestyle. If their tradesmen wanted a big funeral then it would be up to them I imagine.

    Thanks again for the article, I hope others look for the answers to the questions you posed and find a similar answer to mine.

    God Bless

    Rhett Fleitz

    The Fire Critic
    @FireCritic
    http://firecritic.com

  • Bill Carey says:

    A very professional reply Rhett. Well done.
    Bill Carey

  • John Forster says:

    I noticed that he doesn’t question state funerals for fallen soldiers and yet, I would say that one could draw a fair few parallels between the funeral for a soldier and those for police officers or firefighters. Or would that have gotten him a few too many angry responses?
    Nice response, Rhett. Very professional and to the point.

  • Brad says:

    Rhett:

    Hats off to your comment.

    (Another veteran firefighter). All give some, some give all. Firefighters rush in where fools fear to tread.

  • Ron Ayotte says:

    This is what I emailed him..

    Chris.. you questioned why police oficer and firefighter funerals are so elaborate, and why other professions do not have the same.

    Cops and firefighters have two families. One the live with, one they work with, and both of the are intertwined.

    Cops tend to be friends with other cops, their wives are also friends. Their kids play together, etc. The same thing happens with firefighters.

    The intertwined families of cop and firefighters goes well beyond city and town lines, state and province lines, even international borders.

    When a Brother or Sister firefighter or police officer dies in the line of duty, or from a heart attack or cancer, each and every one of us feels a litle loss. We may not know them personally, but we know what they go through, the toll it takes on their bodies, their families at home and on their own psyche.

    When a family member passes away, the survivors get together for a funeral or memorial service. So do cops and firefighters, it is just a larger family.

    We constantly refer to our fellow cops and firefighters as “our sister and brothers from other mothers”… it is that brotherhood and sisterhood that we honor, along with the pride and dedication that comes with the job.

    Deputy Chief Ron Ayotte
    Marlborough Fire Department
    Marlborough, Massachusetts, USA

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