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Close Calls on Camera
by Jason Poremba

Some firefighters do the dumbest things

The videos highlight the opposite of everything we are trained to do, and often they disrespect the service and the overall image of the firefighters in the public eye


Editor's note: We're very happy to announce Jason Poremba scooped a prestigious award this week for his 'Close Calls on Camera' section on FireRescue1. Jason won the Best Regularly Featured Web column/Trade category in the 2009 Western Publications Association's 2009 Maggie Awards, which honors the best magazines, online publications and Web sites in the Western United States.

By Jason Poremba 

When looking for firefighter videos, I typically search for high quality and high content clips. I try to focus my search on major fires, close calls and mishaps — generally things that firefighters will be interested in and can even learn from.

But in recent months I seem to be coming across more and more videos that take a whole new approach to firefighting and the profession at large. These videos feature firefighters performing various prank-like stunts that are often dangerous and crude. Maybe it is a generational thing; a "Jackass" mentality inspired by the TV show of the same name.

I can for no reason justify or quantify what these firefighters are partaking in. In the age where viral video rules, and everyone wants to be a star, I can only think their irresponsible actions are for pure shock value.

This following video features firefighters training in a car-related rescue operation. I would assume the day started out in learning how to take the glass of a car, and ended up with this:

So we start out using a combination of window punch and actual punch:

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Then we take it to a new level completely:

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The videos highlight the opposite of everything we are trained to do, and often they disrespect the service and the overall image of the firefighters in the public eye. It could be these things were always happening, but now with the huge success of YouTube, Facebook, and twitter, these videos get legs and make it to the masses.

The problems are two-fold. The most striking thing to me is that some superior officer or senior person must be present during these activities. That means we are training our firefighters to act this way and think this is acceptable. The second problem is not only are we training our own firefighters to act in ways which are totally contrary to the service, but we are now promoting the idea across the entire Web.

The next video features what appears to be another training session. I have yet to determine a valid use for this operation on the fireground:

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Young firefighters searching the Web for firefighting clips and training clips see these videos and think this is what firefighting is about, and what they should be trying.

It should be no shock to learn that I am a huge supporter of taping fires and training activities. The value of raw video during fires and training is immense. They are used in fire investigations, fire academies and departments across the world. Close call videos and firefighting videos have been a critical training aide for many lead instructors such as Chief Billy Goldfeder and Chief Vincent Dunn.

Video is the most powerful tool of the fire service in demonstrating the true dangers of firefighting. To read about someone getting injured during a front wall collapse is one thing, but to see it happen with your own eyes leaves a lasting impression.

The video that follows features a firefighter in an office chair with a CO2 Extinguisher: 

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Proving my point earlier, the first comment below the YouTube version of this video states, "Hahahahah, we did the same thing at our station on night shift last night."

I highly recommend with the changing times to implement new guidelines and procedures in taping and most importantly publishing these videos. Fire departments should consider at a minimum:

  • Limiting the taping to specific individuals
  • Establishing a system for approving videos
  • Review HIPAA privacy requirements
  • Video coverage should not be used for eavesdropping, listening to, or recording private conversations

About the author

Jason T. Poremba is the owner and creator of, a leading video blog focused on firefighter safety. His 'Close Calls on Camera' section on FR1 won Best Regularly Featured Web column/Trade category in the 2009 Maggie Awards, which honors the region's best publications and Web sites. Jason is currently a 14-year member and captain in an engine company of a volunteer fire department in New York. His specialty training includes rapid intervention, firefighter survival and engine company operations. His passion for firefighting has led him to develop a way to train firefighters via the Web in the dangers of firefighter close calls, and dangerous training and firefighting procedures. In a technological age, videos rule and leave lasting impressions. Jason's hope is to educate firefighters via video to help put an end to unnecessary repeated firefighter mishaps. As well as Jason's videos at, you can also see a selection at You can contact Jason with feedback at

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.
Kevin Fox Kevin Fox Thursday, June 05, 2014 6:48:08 AM I couldn't agree more with your opinions. Well done.
Ben Zoppa Ben Zoppa Thursday, June 05, 2014 7:14:44 AM I just don't understand your point here. None of these videos are in a "training scenario". Do they make these fire fighters look immature? Maybe. But I think videos like "Cop vs Firefighter" and the cinnamon challenges in the fire house already re-enforce the public's view of the prank, stunt, and overall fun loving firefighters. Also, the firefighters in the third video are clearly in some sort of training academy, as all the gear is mismatched and some rather old, but why does this disrespect the fire service? We did all of this in college, and we probably filmed far dumber stunts in our turnouts. There is a reason the public likes us more than cops... Furthermore, I expected to see actual errors that could harm the public. Like when one of my firefighter's used a Halligan to baseball swing at a car door in training. Or when a teaching assistant at our fire academy taught kids to do head-first bailouts without any training justification (or safety ropes). It is these unsafe training actions we should be damning, not some kids having harmless fun in turnouts.
Justice Gilbert Justice Gilbert Thursday, June 05, 2014 7:18:34 AM This is amazingly over-dramatic. They're obviously having fun. Just because they recorded it and put it online doesn't mean that it wasn't happening before. It's not 'a generational thing.' Firefighters, Police Officers, Armed Service members, they all know when to goof off, and when to put their game face on. I'm pretty sure none of these videos are called "Training Videos," anyways. I bet they're called Firefighters goofing off, or something like that. I can't imagine what a workplace would be like if you weren't allowed to have fun, laugh with your buddies, and have a good time.
Leigh Anna Clark Young Leigh Anna Clark Young Thursday, June 05, 2014 7:48:34 AM They're not on scene, they're not training. There are no lives or mock scenario with lives. They're having fun & as the wife of a truckie I can tell you that he'd probably welcome some moments to blow off steam. It's a serious job, there's not a thing wrong in acting less serious from time to time when not out there saving lives.
Jeremy Roy Jeremy Roy Thursday, June 05, 2014 8:06:15 AM These weren't even training scenarios. They had either completed the training and we're fooling around, letting off steam, and just having some fun. You think this is bad? I've seen a thousand times worse. There is a fine line between being a goofball blowing off steam, and disrespecting the fire service.
Hugh Corrigan Hugh Corrigan Thursday, June 05, 2014 8:48:49 AM THEY DO A TOUGH JOB SO ITS GOOD JUST SEEING THEM HAVING SOME FUN!!!!
Robert Mittendorf Robert Mittendorf Thursday, June 05, 2014 9:14:13 AM Who doesn't goof around at the station, and what supervisor wouldn't allow a crew to blow off some steam? But it might be better if these videos circulated in-house, rather than across the Internets. Our engine crew found that you can turn a BA into a jet pack that propels a rider o a skateboard. At my newspaper job, we sometimes played office-chair hockey. But I don't have that on Facebook.
Ryan Stamper Ryan Stamper Thursday, June 05, 2014 10:36:16 AM I realize this article is from 2009 but it was just posted to Facebook today by FireRescue1. Hopefully in the years since this was written the author has had time to have the stick removed from his rectum. This article is absurd at best, and does more to "disrespect the service and the overall image of firefighters" than any video on this page.
Colby Miles Colby Miles Thursday, June 05, 2014 1:08:45 PM The video of the guy sliding head first into a pile of foam could be used in case he and his gear are on fire and thats the closest thing to him. Just saying, but the rest of the videos are just fun to watch. I totally agree with all the comments before me saying these are guys that are letting off steam. How the author of the article didn't realize that is beyond me.
Jay Thompson Jay Thompson Thursday, June 05, 2014 2:35:44 PM when I was in a fire department. we always did acted serious during our training then afterwards we would goof around just to blow off some steam. I don't see any problem here
Jay Thompson Jay Thompson Thursday, June 05, 2014 2:36:44 PM its not like they are at an accident scene or a fire.
Arizona Graham Arizona Graham Thursday, June 05, 2014 8:07:48 PM I think you're all missing the point here. Messing around and having fun are good, but taking videos of it and posting them to youtube might not be the best idea depending on the content of the video. In a time where everyone is looking to point fingers at anyone for anything, we need to exercise a bit of judgment before posting for all the world to see. What we all, as firefighters, interpret as harmless fun with the crew may not be seen that way by someone else with an axe to grind. Be safe all.
Todd Wetter Todd Wetter Thursday, June 05, 2014 8:27:21 PM Just blowing off seam and their not hurting anyone??? afraid I see it a little different. First off they are performing acts that could cause injury to themselves or others resulting in time off work or worse (where is the line in the sand between these acts and the next take it up a notch act). As firefighters our communities have a trust in us like no other profession. They except to show up when they need us and be competent and professional to mitigate their problem quickly. And as long as we keep up that image and their trust they will be more likely to back use and support us when it comes time, such as purchasing equipment, stations, adding manpower. When they pop onto YouTube or Facebook and see their local Fire Department acting like a bunch of High School kids what are the community members going to think the next time your department is asking for a new truck or station? I didn't join the Fire Service for me or to become a You Tube sensation, I joined because I wanted to help the people in my community, and do that in a quick, competent and professional manor. I take great pride in my Department and do not want its image that has taking those before me years to make what it is today, reduced to a image of a firefighter using a foam blanket as a slip-n-slide.
Andrew Jordan Andrew Jordan Friday, June 06, 2014 6:51:41 AM i agree with everyone else if lives were at stake then fine but there are no lives at stake its just a few firefighters having a good time should they have posted it on their own website maybe, maybe not but thats for their department to decide and if their department had a problem with any of these videos the person who posted them would have to remove them so i dont see a problem here. me and my friends did worse than this in the army.
Bob Shadowens Bob Shadowens Friday, June 06, 2014 8:49:33 AM If you're gonna be stupid, you better be tough!
Ed Cody Ed Cody Friday, June 06, 2014 11:27:00 AM As a retired firefighter, firefighters have a great since of humor. It can also get us hurt. Explain that to workman's comp.
Steve Adkins Steve Adkins Friday, June 06, 2014 4:14:16 PM I agree that training needs to be taken seriously, but what is the big deal about having a little fun. With all the things we see and put up with while on scene of actual incidents, a firefighter needs a way to relieve stress. So if they want to have a little fun at the end of the session, so be it. I think you were just feeling a little pissy because someone outdid you on a prank. Just saying
Charles Allen Charles Allen Friday, June 06, 2014 6:26:16 PM OMG people your panties are riding too high up your butts. They are just having a silly time with no one getting hurt. When thev time comes i'm sure they would be nothing less than professional.

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