When Free Press photographer Boris Minkevich took this shot on Thursday evening at a house fire on Redwood Avenue in Winnipeg, he thought it innocent enough. He told Free Press reporter Bartley Kives , "There were numerous firefighters waiting for the apparatus to be set up. This only lasted a moment. I perceived it as an innocent thing I would do myself. I've been to a lot of fires."
But Minkevich's job is to shoot pictures. The job of the two people in the photo is to fight fires and their boss at the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service isn't happy. The picture is also getting wide distribution having been published on a number of news sites in Canada and the United States. Here are excerpts from Kives' article:
On Friday, WFPS Deputy Chief Ken Sim said his department planned to investigate in the evening, when the firefighters in question returned to work.
"Our perspective at this time is this was inappropriate," he said. "This is one of those pictures that begs the question, 'What were they assigned to do that allowed them to take the picture?' "
While firefighters are provided with cameras to document evidence, Sim said it appears the camera depicted in Minkevich's photo was a "non-issued device." Sim said his department will take "whatever action is necessary to take" once the firefighters in the photo are identified.
The president of the union representing Winnipeg firefighters shrugged off the investigation, noting the personnel in the photo could not do anything but wait until more equipment arrived to douse the blaze.
"Is it inappropriate? Probably. But we deal with life and death every single day," said Alex Forrest, president of the United Fire Fighters of Winnipeg. "I didn't get one call about (a recent) fatality and the firefighters who risked their lives trying to save someone, but I got a dozen calls about this one."