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Close Calls on Camera
by Jason Poremba

Some Firefighters Do the Dumbest Things

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 Bestfirefightervideo.com, 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 Firefighterspot.com, you can also see a selection at FlashoverTV.com. You can contact Jason with feedback at Jason.Poremba@FireRescue1.com.



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