Earlier this week several of us were in the dayroom after a call when the conversation turned to Highland, Ind. A firefighter there died early Sunday morning when he and two friends took a department ATV out for a joy ride.
The firefighter was driving the vehicle without authorization and crashed — killing himself and injuring the two passengers. The passengers told police they had been drinking prior to the crash.
There is no arguing that the firefighter made a horrible decision. There is also no arguing that he paid a horrible price.
One of the firefighters in our dayroom wondered aloud what role his fire department would play at his funeral.
When we, at FireRescue1, posted this story online and added links to it on our Facebook pages, I expected a fair amount of comments of the "that was stupid of him and he disgraced his department" variety. I'm happy to say those were few and far between.
I'm happy because while that is an easy reaction to have, the firefighter was still a human, a father, a husband, and a member of Highland's fire department. As poorly thought through as they were, his actions hurt those who loved him or cared about him.
And for that he and they deserve our compassion.
The consensus in the dayroom was that the firefighter shouldn't be given the same treatment as those who die in the line of duty.
I agree. But had he been from my department, I would have no problem wearing a Class A uniform. He was a firefighter and deserves at least that much.
He made a bad mistake. We all have made mistakes; he just paid a heavier price for his.
Rest in peace, brother.
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