I am sure most of you have seen the pictures and maybe even the website and wondered how this could be true. A boy, who can't be more than 14-years-old, claiming to be a firefighter in Roanoke, Virginia. Actually, not just a firefighter, but a lieutenant. And on top of it, this teenager claims to have enough experience in the fire service to write a blog and proclaim he is THE Fire Critic.
Some of you may know him from a series of animated films as Fireboy from Roanoke. He says his real name is Rhett Fleitz. Furthermore, in many comments on FireCritic.com and elsewhere, this Fleitz guy has been telling people for quite some time that Dave Statter has never been a firefighter. And to make matters worse, he has referred to the readers who comment on STATter911.com as "trolls".
Well, some of those "trolls" have been sending me emails and comments with tips on a story I should cover about Rhett Fleitz. But I had given up being a reporter 14-months-ago and vowed to leave the reporting to others. As more of these tips came in, many of them from firefighters in the Roanoke area, I found it too hard to ignore and just had to check them out.
Basically, the tips indicated that The Fire Critic was pointing the finger at me to take the focus off of himself. That, in fact, Rhett Fleitz was not a firefighter and there was no Lt. Rhett Fleitz in the Roanoke Fire Department.
Shocking, you say? That's exactly how I felt.
To determine the truth I took a little side trip during my travels last week to Fire Rescue International. I showed up unannounced in the wonderful city of Roanoke and paid a visit to Engine 3, the firehouse where The Fire Critic claims he works. The results of my secret, undercover investigation can be found in the exclusive video above (though, another fire service blogger nearly spilled the beans last week about our Roanoke visit).
It turns out there is even more to this story than we could tell you in the video. Right now we have the lawyers working overtime at STATter911.com World Headquarters trying to determine if we can even reveal the entire truth about all we have learned. Stay tuned for more.