I’m sure the owners of the businesses that burned at the NJ Boardwalk yesterday appreciate that you all had enough time to pose for these great pics of yourselves with their livelihood going up in smoke in the background. Very classy. pic.twitter.com/dlgXYMCpG1
— Steve (@FireMedic40NJ) April 14, 2019
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I guess you really have to be an ass if you’re taking the time to post a story on your website critical of someone’s beach pictures. So, call me an ass, or worse, because of my disdain for some beach photos posted over the weekend from the Jersey Shore. Admittedly, these are some special pictures and aren’t the kind you can take during just any day at the beach. The background of these images is quite dramatic. It’s a large fire at an Ocean Grove boardwalk business. In the foreground are firefighters taking a time out from fighting the five-alarm fire to pose in front of the burning building. This same building was also heavily damaged during Hurricane Sandy. Something definitely worthy of a big smile or a dramatic pose in the fire gear, don’t you think?
The pictures are clear evidence of just how little influence I have after 12 years of publishing this website. The images come less than a week after I issued a STATter911 general order banning posing for pictures at the scene of all emergency incidents.
While the reaction to my general order was mostly supportive, there’s a fairly strong contingent of firefighters who don’t see these photos as a big deal and see me as a senile old fart, has-been who doesn’t understand firehouse pride. They’re accurate in that description of me, but they’re never going to convince me it’s okay to pose and smile in front of someone’s burned or burning property. My view is it’s all a bit heartless and sends the wrong message about you and the organization you represent. And I defiantly stand by my position even against the argument made in at least one comment that firefighters need this outlet because of all the bad things they see. I’m also not wavering in the face of the argument made by another person that, because of the dangers of the job, this could be their last picture together. By all means, take the picture together. Just do so back at the firehouse.
Last week’s similar ranting by me was prompted by a selfie taken during what turned out to be a double fatal fire in Kalamazoo, Michigan. For those who think the Jersey Shore fire is okay selfie material because it wasn’t a deadly fire, stop for a moment and think. It’s very likely the owner of the business is way too busy right now to see or worry about these silly pictures and this may not be an issue for them. But what if they eventually do care and complain? How does a fire chief justify these actions? How do you explain to someone who lost their life’s work and the employees who lost their source of income that the firefighters are smiling because they like to go to fires and that it’s a pride thing?
I absolutely get there’s a great deal of satisfaction in fighting fires and saving lives and putting the wet stuff on the red stuff. You don’t have to convince me. But the concept that you like going to fires and posing for pictures as buildings burn, or shortly thereafter, is likely a hard sell for the general public.
P.S. – For those seeing this who’ll comment that the Kalamazoo crew should be fired or the Jersey Shore firefighters should be thrown out of their departments, that’s not the remedy here. It should be used as a teaching moment and a time for department leaders to implement the STATter911 general order that bans posing for fireground pictures.