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Banned in Houston: Wearing a helmet camera now a firing offense at HFD.


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Previous STATter911.com coverage of this issue here, here and here.

You likely have seen the video above at some point or another. Houston firefighters rescue a man trapped behind burglar bars in a burning home. I was caught on video through the helmet-cam worn by Captain Brad Stewart at Engine 15.

If Captain Stewart wore the helmet-cam today, he would likely be fired. It is an issue fire departments across the country are wrestling with.  Here are excerpts from a story by Stephen Dean at Examiner.com:

The Houston Fire Department has issued a rule for all firefighters that no helmet cameras are allowed. If any clip shows up online now that the rule has passed, firefighters say they know they'll face suspension or firing.

While those clips may show heroics, fire department headquarters is clearly moving to avoid the flip side of that coin. What happens if a helmet camera is recording when something goes terribly wrong? Even if it doesn't end up online, it could lead to liability for the city, or images that could scar a grieving family for life.

Ask any firefighter and they'll tell you that things always go wrong, even at fires that seem 'textbook' from afar. Nothing is predictable when a house is burning and crews are scurrying to deploy their training to put it out. Even when a seasoned firefighter encounters something that he's done a thousand times before, one tiny variable can send things into chaos at a fire.

The Houston Fire Department's new policy makes it a fireable offense to possess a helmet camera on the job. Any captain is responsible for making sure his team doesn't have one.

Several websites focus on displaying firefighting helmet camera videos from around the nation, but this new policy is aimed at making sure no Houston Fire Department videos are added to that collection in the future.

Comments - Add Yours

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  • Anonymous

    That newscaster is hot!!!!

  • Jake

    Gotta agree with the above,she’d definitely get some. What was the story about again? Sorry Dave, my mind got a little fuzzy

  • Jason

    What was the story about again? She could knock out a camera man with those girls. Love the Houston news!

  • Anonymous

    Houston has just become petty. Congrats to the great leader who just put that order out (mor*n). A great training aid, IMO.

  • Gerry N.

    Ah, yes the omnipresent beuro-twit. We HAVE to cover our sorry asses boys, never mind we might learn something useful.

    Gerry N. (Actual taxpayer)

  • Dan-NY

    While I can see the helmet cam as a helpful tool for training purposes, I also see the potential problems. Attorneys looking for lawsuits would tear apart every frame and point fingers at firefighters who moved left instead of right, etc. I also see the potential for a less stellar firefighter to post clips online, which leans toward privacy and hipa violations.

  • Chief Reason

    This isn’t about the video or pictures being taken. We’ve been doing THAT for years.
    What IS the problem is that too much of it is getting into the public domain.
    The potential problems that is poses far outweighs our fragile egos.
    Because we can’t rely on good common sense anymore, we have to legislate it.
    It isn’t petty. It’s necessary.
    Remember; it’s not a right; it’s a privilege.

  • Anonymous

    Chief Reason, go pound sand…”it’s a privilege?” What first ammend rights and transparency are you trying to shutter? It sound like more managerial self-righteousness to me.

    I haven’t seen any dept sued for filming yet. It’s a great training tool and if our egos are so fragile so is the good common sense of the decision makers.