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Controversy in Dallas, TX over helmet-cam video. Press wants to talk with firefighter. Chief not happy.

Dallas News |

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See video causing controversy (still online as of 8:30 AM EDT)

Last week we posted a helmet-cam video from a Dallas, Texas firefighter showing the initial attack at a house fire. Now it is the video that is apparently under attack. According to news reports, the fire chief isn’t happy it was shot or posted to YouTube and it is making news.

James Rose, KDFW-TV:

Administration sources told FOX 4 the Chief is angry about the video being  taken and posted. The source stopped short of calling it an official  “investigation,” but did say it is being looked into.

It’s unclear if Dallas Fire Rescue has a policy regarding helmet cam video.  It’s also unclear who the camera belongs to and who, if anyone, sanctioned the  video’s posting.

Selwyn Crawford,

A few hundred views have become several thousand, and it’s become quite the sensation — so much so that officials with Dallas Fire-Rescue announced Friday night that the firefighter who shot the video with his helmet camera would not be made available for interviews, despite a legion of reporters who gathered outside Fire Station No. 5 on St. Augustine Road.

In a note sent to media moments ago, DFR spokesman Jason Evans writes “that several media outlets are camped out across the street” from the fire station, but that “we are not granting any interview requests in regards to the video recently posted on line by one of our firefighters.” 

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Comments - Add Yours

  • C. Chambers

    I can see a few reasons why there might be a problem here. Did the firefighter in question have permission from the fire department to post such a video? Second, and it is a BIG SECOND, they are obviously riding standing up in the step well of the cab of the engine while responding to the fire! No seat belts! Full SCBA on including their mask, although not hooked up until they enter the building. We preach about safety and yet, here are two professional firefighters throwing safety out the door! Just a thought.

    • FF/PM Greg

      Just throwing out a possibility here with the seat belts… Maybe they had them on up to the point the video began. They are clearly slowing down and pulling up to the fire seconds after this video starts.

      As I typically do myself, seat belt is on pretty much the whole way to the scene and as we round the final turn I unbuckle and make final preparations to go to work. I see no real risk in doing this and I’m ready to go when the engine stops.

      • Fire21

        Many years ago we responded to a car fire on the Interstate. As the engine slowed at the scene, the officer unbuckled his seat belt and clicked the door latch open. Suddenly the engineer pulled a left turn to adjust his position at the scene, and the officer flew out the door!! He was uninjured, but embarrassed. Seat belts are intended to keep occupants IN PLACE whenever the vehicle is in motion…fast or slow.

        • FF/PM Greg


          While I do appreciate what you stated, I don’t really feel like your example is completely comparable to what I was saying. I may take off my seat belt as we arrive but, I wait until the engine has stopped before trying to exit.

          • Fire21


            I appreciate your haste to aid your fellow citizens, but have you ever experienced a sudden stop at 5 mph or even less without a belt on, especially if you’re standing up in the step well? The forces can be injuring, and if you’re injured, then you’re no good on that particular call. It’s your choice, and I know many will do as you do, but many will also do as I do. I guess it’s up to your officer(s). Best to you and your crews.

  • Scooter

    I guess there goes his chance of promotion anytime soon. Sad because Dallas FD could make this a good PR for them and also promote some fire prevention. Could just be handled by telling FF need to get Fire Admn approval before uploading videos. (then get socail media policy if they don’t have one) The videos are some great training chances and of course Strike Da Box! K

  • Wayne

    It is stupid there bitching about unless the awesome work of this engine company embarrassed the rest of the engine companies because they are slow

  • Nick

    The KDFW article is blatant sensationalism. I do not see any facts to support the claim that the “Chief isn’t happy about it.” If you’re going to use the weakest tool in journalism – “sources say”, at least quote them. This is no different than me saying, “I heard John slept with a fat chick” in the firehouse kitchen.

    My gripe is that there is no information in this article. Mr. Rose hasn’t given me any new facts that I didn’t already glean from the youtube video. He seems to acknowledge this fact at the end of the article, “It’s unclear if Dallas Fire Rescue has a policy regarding helmet cam video. It’s also unclear who the camera belongs to and who, if anyone, sanctioned the video’s posting.” In other words, “I don’t know anything and I haven’t put forth the effort to be a responsible journalist and find out anything.”

    Read more:

  • Former Chief

    Why is Dallas Fire Rescue being so evasive on this? Either you have a social media policy or you don’t. That should be fairly easy to answer. If they do and the Firefighter violated the policy, then I guess he gets whatever discipline is called for. But, in this case I hope it’s only a verbal reprimand, because that was a darn good public relations video for the fire department and fire service in general.

  • FMCH

    Shame, this is the kind of thing that the “average citizen” loves to see. It gives them a real look into what it’s like in a structure fire. This could and should be a great PR tool.

  • Jim

    Seems like the only issue is no seatbelt usage and loose tools in the cab. Personally, I don’t care and do it all the time myself. I just don’t document it and put it on the internet for every safety sally that goes to 1 fire a year to critique. I’m with FF/PM Greg, when we are on the block I unbuckle and turn forward like these guys. I’m looking for hydrants, doing my own size up, looking for anything that could be important. Man up people, we’re firemen not cowards.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll put my money on seat belts being the issue.

    Regardless of the argument of wearing them or not wearing then…don’t put a video or picture up showing that you don’t have a seat belt on. Edit the start of the video before you post it.

    On masking up in the rig…I did it for many years until I ran two calls that the mask completely screwed me. First was a commercial storage building fire with smoke from the second floor. Had my mask on, forced the first floor door and it was pilled full of boxes and debris blocking all access. There wasn’t smoke on the first floor but I had to start clearing debris. Mask fogged up. Had to take off the mask, clear the box, then mask back up. More trouble than it was worth and haven’t done it since then. Second, I walked right over live wires that I never saw with the mask on heading to the front door.

  • northchief

    Question, does the governnment (fire department) have a right to enter your home and photograph it without your express permission or the possesion of a warrant? Most of the time this won’t come up but suppse that something illegal shows up on the video. Don’t say when the house is on fire we own it, you don’t. Your there to do a job just like a plummber or repair man. Would you let your handyman walk around your houe and take pictures or videos? What makes us any different? We do not have privileges over the rest of society.

  • cappy

    Thousands talk the seatbelt game or just outright ignore it… I think the federal death benefits should be withheld if a lodd is directly attributed to not wearing the belt. Sounds harsh.. but it would send a message.

  • Squad1

    These video’s are intended to show tactics, weather successful or not, for learning purposes. As long as HIPPA isn’t being violated, these are useful tools when critiquing incidents. It’s just something for the ranks to bitch about.

  • Anonymous

    We had a similar incident in my town a few years ago. One of the captains had a helmet cam and got great footage of a grass fire that got into some houses. When the chief heard about it, he got the city lawyers involved. Their opinion was that, because the captain was on duty, the video belonged to the city. The chief made it “his own”. He gave an exclusive to the local TV station he was cozy with. He took it on road shows where he was a guest speaker. A video game company even got rights to use images from the video. The captain who owned the camera and shot the video got nothing.

  • Jake Harris

    Just a few things to clarify.
    1.The sole purpose of the helmet cam was for good PR, educational and training purposes period!
    2. There was no DFD policy on videos.
    3. No HIPAA rights violated, no faces, no address numbers, and if weren’t for title, nobody would’ve known it was Dallas. Even the street name is spelled wrong!
    4. Most importantly, seat belts were being worn while en route. Just the last 15-20 which shows the FF grabbing his tools unseat-belted as that pulled down street getting closer to scene. In which that does not make it right technically they need to be seat belted anytime apparatus is in motion

    Here’s a published comment that sums up the whole ordeal and how the news made up a story. Enjoy

    A few days ago, a Dallas firefighter posted a helmet camera video of their engine making the initial attack of a one-story, wood-frame house fire. The link for that video is here:

    The fire looks like a textbook example of your basic “bread and butter” house fire that we handle every day.

    Apparently, the media saw it, was impressed, and wanted to find out more about the cameras. They tried to get more information but couldn’t get it in as timely a manner as they’d like for the evening news, so what did they do? In the typical “reporter” fashion, they made up their own story and made it one of the lead-in stories on the evening news. Here is their spin:…-cam-video-pos

    A friend of mine is an Assistant Chief with the DFD and offered this perspective. He said that the news reporter tried to contact the PIO who was out to lunch and apparently was too busy to take the reporter’s phone call. The reporter then went to the fire station (where the firefighter with the camera was assigned) and tried to get an interview and, per the DFD rules, they were referred to the PIO.

    A long story short – the PIO never returned their calls and the media made up a “controversy” about the cameras. The Fire Chief got mad because the PIO didn’t do his job and now you have not only a controversy, but a “mad” Fire Chief. The reporter took a little liberty with the story and concluded that some type of investigation would occur and added that to the media “frenzy”. Not only that, but apparently one of the firefighters at the station where the reporter was trying to get the “unofficial” interview was asked by the reporter if he was a member of the union (which led to the “Firefighter’s Association is also refusing to comment…”

    The summary is this: reporters will say anything to get a story. Most of us know that already. They will also spin anything you say in a fashion that you almost don’t even recognize it. In this case, the only “controversy” was that the reporter couldn’t get a story in the time-frame he wanted it.

    From the Fire Department’s perspective, they should have been more proactive in managing what could have been an awesome PR opportunity. Instead the media has portrayed the DFD command staff, and specifically the Fire Chief, as having buried his head in the sand.

    Ironically, they created a social media policy within an hour of this story making the news.