Atlanta’s story isn’t about duty
It was asked that this comment on Facebook be shared.
I had shared the latest from work on the Atlanta fire rescue suspension story and was asked what my thoughts are on the subject. While it really doesn’t matter what I think, or anyone else outside of Atlanta thinks, I do believe that some of people are getting riled up over what they perceive to be a threat to their duty, and in turn their identity, as a firefighter. That’s very different from supporting Captain Dwyer.
If the captain was injured or killed, it would be a different story.
If there was video, but no victim, and he was severely injured, it would be just like the Fresno, California garage fire through the roof story, it would be a different story.
If he went with his crew, it would be no story.
This is a personality conflict story, a retribution bit possibly.
But that will be lost when all the details come out in the open because everyone is pontificating about it on Facebook without a dog in the hunt and has everybody stirred up and trying to identify themselves and confirm their beliefs, even some which may not apply to their own area.
What also will be lost is that much like similar incidents in the past, and with significant LODDs, none of the national organizations will comment on this to include their safety/risk material. If Dwyer died, you can bet that later there would be advisories and articles about risk, survivability, situational awareness. Easy to do when the subject in focus is dead. Much harder when that subject might reply.
Finally, the citizens of Atlanta won’t really care in the end. The coronavirus, I-270 traffic, and the bus driver, police officer fight is already headline leaders.
I’m glad that he did his duty and wasn’t injured. I hope he has enjoyed his sudden time off by spending it with his family and friends, and that when he comes back to work he does so on the high road leaving no doubt in the minds of the citizens of Atlanta that he will continue to do his duty and expect the same of those he works with.
We shouldn’t think that all things interior firefighting is coming to an end. Despite the virtual hand-wringing on social media, municipal leaders aren’t out en masse to restrict your tactics and leave citizens to die. Nor is this the sign that the fire service as a whole has declined. Every generation of firefighters before us probably thought that as things changed lest getting rid of the horses has caused decades of deterioration of strategies and tactics that we face now.
So instead of memes and live Facebook rants, review your department’s disciplinary procedures, appeals, grievances and the like. Be prepared for when a bit of bullying – which is what is happening in Atlanta – happens to you. Be better than a chief with nothing more than an ax to grind.
A fire in June 2019 suddenly gets a disciplinary review? No, it’s not about the fire.
Bill Carey is the Online News Manager with Clarion Fire & Rescue Group, specifically FirefighterNation.com and FireRescue Magazine. Bill served as a firefighter, volunteer sergeant, and lieutenant at Hyattsville in Prince George’s County, Maryland. His writing has been in Fire Engineering, FireRescue Magazine, FirefighterNation, and other sites. His work on firefighter behavioral health was nominated for a 2014 Neal Award for Best Subject-Related Series.