After posting a recent video of a firefighter accusing a photographer of being an arsonist in an attempt to make the man leave the fireground, I’m not surprised to hear tensions are a bit high in Detroit. Above, is last weekend’s TV talk show “Let It Rip” from WJBK-TV in Detroit. The lead topic of discussion was the relationship between firefighters and the many people taking pictures and video on firegrounds in Detroit.
The show came in anticipation of a very busy Independence Day weekend for the Detroit Fire Department. On the panel were fire buffs, drone operators, news people and the union president for Detroit firefighters.
It’s well worth watching. It appears the amount of fire Detroit gets and the number of photographers chasing those fires magnifies the potential for conflict — particularly today with digital media in the hands of virtually everyone. These are issues most every jurisdiction has to deal with on some level.
One thing missing from this panel is representation from the leadership of the Detroit Fire Department and/or the City of Detroit. It’s clearly a problem that needs to be taken out of the hands of individual firefighters and photographers and dealt with in the form of some clear and legal policies that define the fireground and the access for all involved.
This will not be an easy task in Detroit where firefighters and police are very short-handed compared to the call volume they handle. But ignoring the problem will lead to more confrontations and eventually lawsuits over individuals making decisions that aren’t good policy or necessarily legal.