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Two-year-old video haunts Somerdale, NJ firehouse. Former firefighter shows chief & others making fun of mentally challenged member.

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

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Last night, WTXF-TV reporter Chris O’Connell showed the Philadelphia area TV audience a two-year-old video of the chief and some firefighters from New Jersey’s Somerdale Fire Department (Camden County) mocking a man with developmental disabilities who is also described as a department member. The person who took the video and provided it to the news media is Mike Miller, a former member. Miller, whose family had been firefighters for four generations, explains in the news story why he is a former member and that he is sharing the video now because the recent passing of his grandmother, who had also been a volunteer, prompted him to do the right thing.

According to the news report, the entire department underwent sensitivity training when Borough of Somerdale officials became aware of the incident in 2011. The uncensored video has been on YouTube for almost a year and can be found here. The sexual banter is pretty explicit and the whole episode is quite cruel.

WTXF-TV:

Video shows Somerdale’s Fire Chief Steve Daniels, along with a captain, a lieutenant and other firefighters all making inappropriate sexual comments to the disabled man who doesn’t seem to understand why everyone is laughing.

Miller was terminated from Somerdale Fire Department 2 years ago. The department says he was fired because he broke the rules.

Miller says he was targeted for speaking out against department policies.

“This was a continuing pattern of the type of things that went on there and that I needed to record it and have it”

FOX 29′s Chris O’Connell went to the Somerdale Fire House to ask Chief Daniels about the video but he wasn’t there.

On the phone he tells us he’s quote “deeply sorry” for what was said in the video. And says quote “since our training we haven’t had any more incidents. We think we have taken steps so this never happens again.”

FOX 29′s Chris O’Connell did speak with the Somerdale mayor tonight. He explains that he is disturbed by the video, but believes sensitivity training was the appropriate way to handle it.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Dan

    Seems to me just some ball busting going on, whoever posted the video should be the douchebag in question.

    • Mack Seagrave

      Dan, IF you are a firefighter AND IF you really believe in what you posted about this abuse of a man with developmental disabilities … Then it’s time for you to seek a different occupation or ‘hobby’ (if that’s what firefighting is for you) as you don’t have the human compassion or the common sense needed to be a professional firefighter. The department members who perpertrated this abuse should be removed from the department.

  • Hmmmmm

    Really Dan so you would be fine if that was your son/daughter that is mentally challenged sitting there taking that abuse? It maybe in what they thought was good fun but totally wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Dan,

    The only douchebag I see here is you. It’s one thing to
    use ball busting firehouse humor with regular company
    members. But with a mentally impaired person who is little
    more than a mascot? It’s assholes like these guys and you
    who give all firefighters a bad name, especially small town volunteers like Somerdale and some of the other small volunteer outfits around the country who can’t even handle a small mattress fire without sounding a second alarm.

  • IslaFire

    Idiots. Just plain idiots. As Anon says above, don’t be a douchebag. I work for a large career department. Several of our stations have challenged guys who stop by the station on a daily basis. They are accepted as one of us. Some even do station duties, wash the truck, make coffee, etc. If you measure yourself as a man based on how much shit you can shovel to challenged persons like this, you are not a man and you are surely not a fireman. I would hope that all those that participated in this were removed permanently removed from their positions and ostracized by the community. They have no place in the fire service.

    • http://Firehousezen.com Mick Mayers

      Amen to you too.

  • TDtruckie71

    This is yet another case of bad people in high places allowed to run rampant. As someone who used to be involved with this organization, I can tell you first hand that the current administration of this department is nearly one of the most corrupt in small town America. Due to this, the department and community have suffered greatly. The public ought to know that the problem here is not a single, isolated incident. This video is but probably the only properly documented incident, which is extremely unfortunate. This fellow Matt that is being harassed is one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. While he lacks the ability to function as a firefighter on calls, he had been included in department events and functions and was originally part of the team. I know how proud he was to be seen in the town during parades and town events on holidays. He’d be the first person to show up for department clean-ups and fund drives. To see these particular people do this is shocking, I’m also not surprised. There used to be a time when people would joke around with Matt in a group conversation as an equal…like any other person in a firehouse. Matt would joke back and everyone would be laughing good-naturedly. It was never, ever this cruel. This video blows my mind. If the public knew how this particular administration runs their ship, these people would have been forcibly removed from the department a long time ago at the very minimum. I can say that many current members have remained silent about what goes on up there because they feel they stand something to lose. Most former members have left because they are simply “tired of the B.S.”. As people with families and properties in a town where everyone seems to know everybody, there is a forced atmosphere of fear of dirty repercussion in their professional and personal lives, which is extremely disturbing. This administration has harassed and intimidated good people for years to gain power and control of the department by any means necessary. The use of the Chain of Command when not on a fire scene is non-existent. When this administration had an issue with you, whether you were legitimately right or wrong, there was no rank and file to mitigate a problem. There were no steps for corrective actions. They would simply surprise you without warning and take you into a closed door meeting. There would be the member in question versus the entire staff of fire officers, who would proceed as a collective to berate and over-speak you until you were verbally pinned. They would then impose a “punishment” without the review of the department. These guys want control for the sake of status and power, not to provide strong protection to the community. The operational side, which once was pretty decent when it came time to perform, is now extremely questionable at the very best. This means the town suffers because of it. It’s really like something out of a bad movie, yet it is reality. It’s a reality that no one keeps in check and the town administration turns a blind eye to.

  • Mike

    I’m the “douchebag” that posted the video. This incident is the tip of the iceberg with this administration. I wouldn’t record firehouse banter, I know the difference. Fellow buddies busting each others stones is NOT the same as using a persons innocence and good nature as a running joke at their expense.

  • ukfbbuff

    Dan

    What Mr. Mike Miller did was;

    “Whistle Blowing” and of course he was terminated from the VFD.

    Looks like those involved need to be fired even though this happened two years ago.

  • Anonymous

    I think they should look closer to what is under the rug.