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Top 10 firefighting stories of 2012

Take a look back with us on some of the most memorable, commented on and shared FR1 articles over the last year

The past 12 months have been filled with a range of amazing stories, from harrowing rescues, departmental scandals, nation-wide tragedies, and breath-taking videos.

We dug through our archives and dove into our stats to bring you some of the most popular stories that you, our readers, commented on, viewed, and shared the most in 2012. We also selected stories that reflected trends across the fire service. Take a look below.

1.4 firefighters shot, 2 fatally, in western NY: One of the most tragic stories of 2012 was that of the fatal ambush of four firefighters who were lured to a blaze on Christmas Eve then attacked by ex-convict William Spengler Jr. Two firefighters were killed while two others were seriously injured. Spengler left a chilling note that he wanted to do what he liked “doing best, killing people.” He shot himself after the attack. The two surviving firefighters released a statement saying they are humbled by the support of the community.

2.Racy firefighter photos probed by department: Jacksonville (Fla.) Fire and Rescue firefighters found themselves in hot water after an internal investigation was launched following the release of “racy” photos from a fundraising event. Firefighters are seen in various states of undress while wearing their bunker gear, some officials saying their behavior was “lewd.” This story drew quite a reaction from readers as it was revealed that the firefighters in question were raising funds for the family of another firefighter who had died earlier in 2012.

3.Barred from firefighting, crews watch home burn: Firefighters who were reportedly first to arrive at the scene of a burning home were forced to simply watch due to a dispute with township advisors. Perdix (Pa.) Fire Company firefighters were barred from battling the blaze because it severed ties with the town after decades of bickering. The homeowner and her daughter watched their home burn to the ground. They were not injured but their family dog died.

4.Kansas City chief must cut 100+ fire jobs: In an effort to cut $7.6 million from the Kansas City Fire Department, Chief Richard “Smokey” Dyer had to put at least 105 firefighting jobs on the line. “If you want to reduce budgets, you don’t lessen the resources per company,” Chief Dyer said. “You create less companies and spread them out, and then as the decision makers, you live with the consequences.” He said he looked into other options, but said likely jobs would have to go.

5.911 calls, fire radio traffic released in Colo. movie theater rampage: In wake of the Aurora, Colo. movie theater shooting, authorities released audio recordings of the 911 calls made during the attack that left 12 dead and 59 wounded. Callers reported hundreds of people running around, a gunman wearing a mask, and accounts of people sacrificing themselves to save others. As the shooting occurred, the calls between authorities became more frantic as victims were found.

6.Live burn injures 4 firefighters, chief place on leave: Video from three different cameras and audio recordings revealed an uncoordinated live burn training that went wrong. A report revealed that there was a lack of communication between the North Las Vegas firefighters and a lack of clarity in the chain of command. Two of the four firefighters suffered serious injuries and Chief Al Gillespie was suspended.

7.Detroit may turn to tourists to fight fire, raise money: Readers were up in arms over this supposed plan by Detroit city officials to hire firefighting tourists to battle blazes as part of the city’s “ride-along training program.” The considered plan involved charging visiting firefighters a fee to respond to calls with the DFD in a way to bridge cuts to the department. Officials said the idea was part of an internal memo and wasn’t meant to be discussed publically.

8.Firefighter resigns after controversial Facebook post: A Columbus, Miss. firefighter resigned after making a controversial comment on his Facebook page about an incident involving a 2-year-old boy getting hit by a car. The firefighter allegedly made comments about the child’s mother and her whereabouts. Two other firefighters along with a police officer were also facing disciplinary action for “liking” the post.

9.Family of man killed in fire sues fire dept.: A Neb. family filed a wrongful death claim for $1 million against the city and its fire department after their father died in a blaze earlier in 2012. The family claims the firefighters were unprepared and “unreasonably delayed.” Many of our readers reasoned that because the cause of the fire was traced to hot ashes deposited in the back porch, the department was not necessarily to blame.

10.Dissent in DC: Firefighters turn back on chief’s proposal: Rounding our top 10 stories of 2012 is the story of more than 100 firefighters turning their back on DC Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe after his attempt to install a new schedule earlier this year. The chief’s proposed schedule had firefighters working 24 hours straight followed by three days off, which he said would save the city tens of millions of dollars. Firefighters said the schedule was unreasonable and unrealistic.