How the public sees a fire attack

The ubiquitous mobile camera and platforms for sharing video means a fire department's tactics and reputation are under constant, and sometimes unfair, scrutiny

Editor's note: This feature is intended to spark the sharing of ideas, information and techniques to make firefighters safer and more effective. The following video and discussion points must not be used to berate, belittle or criticize those firefighters. Rather, in the spirit of near-miss reporting, please use this feature as another teaching tool to help you better do your job. Please leave your comments below and use this material in your own department. I hope you find this Reality Training valuable; stay safe and keep learning.

The fire department responded to a liquor store and a cell phone store involved in fire. Ultimately, a total of nine agencies assisted in the suppression operations. The two stores were a loss, and a connecting church also sustained water and smoke damage.

And afterward that operation drew more than 30,000 views on YouTube.

Rather than discussing the firefighting tactical operations, let's look at how they are perceived by the general public and other firefighters. We all know that civilians and firefighters are using wireless phone cameras to capture more fire videos than ever before, and it is of the quality that not long ago required high-end equipment.

Once those videos hit the digital street via YouTube, Facebook and other media outlets, the commentary from all quarters can be quite damaging. The potential for a department's reputation to be damaged comes not only from the general public, but fellow firefighters as well.

Watch the video and use the discussion questions below before you review the written comments that accompany the video.

Discussion questions

  • What feelings and thoughts did you experienced while watching the video? 
  • What feelings and thoughts would the average civilian in your community experience while watching the video?
  • What do you think the general opinion of the civilians in this community would be of their fire department after viewing the video?
  • What can fire department personnel do during tactical operations to proactively address what can show up on social media?

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