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.