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Fire News in Focus
by Adam K. Thiel

I'm glad it wasn't a firefighter

The caught-on-camera scuffle between a woman and a police officer is why we need law enforcement on scene

By Adam K. Thiel

Editor's note: Chief Adam K. Thiel says that while it is never acceptable to strike a police officer, a little empathy may be in order for those who are watching all of their possesions go up in flames.

I'm not sure what to say about this story beyond: I'm glad it was a police officer and not a firefighter involved!

In all seriousness, it makes you wonder what might have transpired if law enforcement wasn't already on scene.

I've certainly encountered irate property owners, and bystanders, at fires before. As quick as we are to condemn their behavior, it's important to consider how we might feel in a similar situation.

What would you do if your home, all your worldly possessions, and your pets were involved in a fire?

Would you calmly stand back and watch? Hmmmm ... I'm not sure I could do that; could you?

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not condoning anyone attacking a law enforcement officer, firefighter, EMS provider or other public official regardless of the circumstances.

Still, I think a bit of empathy in these circumstances goes a long way. After all, finding your house on fire is a pretty bad day in anyone's book.

The central question for all of us, however, remains: "How do we handle people (maybe even brother or sister firefighters) who really want to run back inside a burning building without protection?"

What do you think?

Stay safe!

About the author

With more than two decades in the field, Chief Adam K. Thiel FireRescue1's editorial advisor is an active fire chief in the National Capital Region and a former state fire director for the Commonwealth of Virginia. Chief Thiel's operational experience includes serving with distinction in four states as a chief officer, incident commander, company officer, hazardous materials team leader, paramedic, technical rescuer, structural/wildland firefighter and rescue diver. He also directly participated in response and recovery efforts for several major disasters including the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Tropical Storm Gaston and Hurricane Isabel.

The comments below are member-generated and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of or its staff. If you cannot see comments, try disabling privacy and ad blocking plugins in your browser. All comments must comply with our Member Commenting Policy.
Alain Colle Alain Colle Saturday, October 27, 2012 11:53:21 AM Il merite un section , se policier na pas sa place...
Paul J Sanzone Paul J Sanzone Saturday, October 27, 2012 12:29:23 PM Ok as a firefighter, I have encountered this kind of situation on more than one occasion. You absolutely have to show some empathy and compassion while protecting yourself. Never once have my crew or myself ever hurt anyone like that nor did we ever press any criminal charges against them.'s night right to assault a firefighter, police officer, or ems personnel. But you have to take into account the mental duress the homeowner is under. As you stated, they are standing there watching everything they own and in some horrible instances, their beloved pets as well. It could happen to anyone of us. I have always felt heartbroken for the homeowner at the fires I have responded to.

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