Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reality? Hardly!

This is what you are seeing: 

This is what you are not seeing, at least not as prevalently:

There is a stark difference between the photos and the fact that the first is being shared by many, but the second, not so much...  The picture was taken during the filming of a series of Training DVDs from Fire Engineering called Tactical Perspective.  This is a staged photo guys.

While I applaud the firefighters in the production of this series who have taken every avenue to add in realism to their series (which is awesome), I have nothing but utter disdain for the person that has taken the photo, chopped it up and added the "Reality/Motivation" text at the bottom.  Once that was done, it went viral and I've seen it for 2 days.  I cringe each time another person shares or e-mails it.

While I am all for the notion of making the public aware of the dangers we (potentially) face, I am totally against the notion of a fireman sharing this type of photo so that his gaggle of girlfriends will ohh and ahh over his proclaimed bravery.  You know it's happening, and why.  This is a cheap, bush league, look at me, attention getting, fallacy.  Knock it off.  If I'm the only one in the fire service who feels this way, so be it, I am not afraid to go against the grain.  If I am not, let me know. 


  1. Hey Jason, I agree, what we do on a daily basis is enough, and it's our job. Making it look "better" or more dangerous or heroic is BS. This is the kind of shit posted by a wannbee that more than likely has never been in the shit and if they found themselves in it would probably panic and run anyway. Might as well use so stills from Backdraft,or Rescue Me and claim those are real. My scars are real and I wish I didn't have them, I got them by making mistakes and taking chances I was lucky to survive. Thanks for pointing this out for what it is and taking the high ground.

    1. The High Road would have been to let it die out like many others. Sometimes I can't take it and have an outburst...Thanks for your support!

  2. Thanks for yellin' this off the rooftop brother. This kind of stuff is sickening.

  3. The photo was staged (but originally for a good purpose). Strike one. And it's hopefully obvious that the FF is coming OUT of the window, not going IN to "save your family". Strike two. Somebody might be (probably is) using it to puff themselves up. Strike three. My issue with the negative commentary is that, much as we hope and pray and work and train otherwise, this stuff DOES happen, and we need to recognize it as such.

    That, plus I guess it's a "more acceptable" static image than somebody in the middle of a cardiac LODD, something much more likely IMHO.

    OTOH, whenever people tell me how great/cool/whatever my job is, I can usually say "hey, my hat's off to you, I could never deal with a 9-5".

  4. I am not saying I agree you should have made your blog post 100% but in a way I am glad you had the sack to call this glory hound out! It is disgusting that some try to make this job more than it is and whoever made this motivational poster obviously did not know what happened. This action is what started all of this and not the post on the blog.

    First people should take the time to make sure the facts behind what they are looking at before taking a photo like this and running with it. Secondly by doing this the picture is now being viewed as a "stunt" and the reality of the fact that he is still on fire has been lost.

    There is no reason to glorify our job. It is dangerous enough that we should focus on 100% truths. There are enough people out there looking to cut us in anyway they can and some idiot going over the top and trying to use a staged training photo as a reality does not help us in our cause. It calls our profession into question for those that are on the fence of being against us or supporting us.

    I knew what the photo was when I first saw it posted two days ago in its original format and was relieved when I saw that an explanation of the photo was released shortly after explaining the circumstances. I knew that someone would take this photo and try and make it a hero situation and cringed at the thought.

    Too much Backdraft mentality throughout the fire service. It pisses me off when our own guys try and make this job be "cool" and typically these are the same guys that should focus more on throwing ladders, stretching lines, maintaining equipment, and learning the job. I cant say I coined the phrase but to me these people are T-shirt firemen and it makes me sick!

  5. This is "Reality" and not a glorification:

    1. Thanks for sharing this video Bill, I have not seen it until now.

  6. We need more guys like you in the fire service and less of this "johnny rockstar" look at my bad ass facebook photo of me being a "firemen". I'm all for putting a good knock on a fire and getting the job done. However, I'm getting pretty sick of some of these guys chasing down photographers for pictures of themselves so they can look hardcore for some chick there banging.

  7. I see the points as I'm sure plenty of Internet firemen are getting an extra hug from their girlfriend tonight. I think another group of firemen have shared this photo one way or the other to get attention to the fact they are being attacked much harder than this guy appears to be from the fire.

    The attack I am talking about is from the local mayor, politicians, or perhaps an uneducated family who think firemen sleep and play cards all day. Company closures, brownouts, pension attacks, Staffing levels, reduced funding are just a few examples.

    I think many chose this photo to remind others what we do. What we are trained for. What risks are involved and the fact we may not come home to our family. This picture is graphic to the untrained eye. It's an attention getter. I dont look at it as a Billy bad a$$ entering a window to melt his scotchlite. I look at it as an educational tool to remind our tax payers that firemen still exist in their neighborhoods...... Hopefully.

  8. I believe that the people with the truest intentions in the fire service actually are in the background of our every day stuff. Seeing pictures like this posted and wearing bada** firefighter shirts just tells me you have been on the department for all of 6 months or that you really don't get what we do or who we are. I can understand the former, the latter makes me laugh. BTW, I am a volunteer and have been for 13 years.

  9. You are absolutely right, or as far as I am concerned. The photo cheapens the "real actions" of many firefighters. The reality of the digital age is that sooner or later the truth always comes out. There is no doubt in my mind that there are many people out there using this photo for the "hey look what I do" effect. When the truth comes out to general public, like it always does, we will all lose.
    My two cents based on 35 years of dealing with the public. If you have three years on and have gone to 2 fires and disagree with me, then so be it! I am pretty sure that the true warriors out, the folks who are going to fires day in and day out will sit on my side of the isle on this one.

  10. Guys, I wholeheartedly welcome feedback for this blog, not matter if it is in support or in adversity of it. When I woke this morning to check my e-mail, I was shocked to see the response this post has gotten in less than 24 hours.

    Let me take you to the root of my frustration. When I first started seeing this get thrown around on facebook, I noticed those who were sharing it. They were either very young guys who were proclaiming their bravado for their women to see, older guys (mind you some that I know well)who have never been actual firemen by most of our standards that would absolutely never engage in a dire situation, or others that simply thought it looked cool. To me, it's a cheap way of saying "I'm a fireman, look at what we do." We don't do this, at least not as prevalently as the photo would make the general public believe.

    Again, I'm not against the making of it for a training video to be put out by Fire Engineering. I've contacted PJ Norwood, one of the people behind the program and he agrees with me 100%. What I am against is taking something like this, using it out of context, then cheaply drawing attention to ourselves with it. If you shared it, so be it. Just know that there are people out there that know what good taste is, and they use it. It's too bad that others do not.

    I wonder what the reaction would be if I took a photo of the World Trade Center collapsing and some tasteless slogan at the bottom, like "Buy American" or "Eat at Sizzler". See where I'm coming from?

  11. Jason, I am the Man in the picture and I agree with your insite. When someone posted the poster with the staements on it I did not like it because it was making a political statement. The term reality was also a little off because it was a fake fire scene done by a pyrotechnician. Its intent is to sell a DVD not glorify our trade.

    Danny Stratton

    1. Danny, thanks for your response. I appreciate what you guys are doing. Too bad people rip off what isn't theirs for attention getting motives. Keep up the good work!

  12. I think we walk a fine line when it comes to some fo this stuff. On one side in todays tough economic times we need to get out there what we are doing. A picture of us washing the fire truck, cleaning the station, or inspecting a business does not get the response that a fire photo does.

    How ever when it is false and not the whole story and sensationalizing what we do, then it is a problem.

    Promotion of our business and our individual departments is good and neccesary and something we as a fire service do not do enough. Most guys do not need recgonition or do not want it but it is not about being a hero, it is about educating the public about what we do, and how valuable the servic ewe provide is. Right now in the community I live in they are talking about going to 2 man engines (already a combination department with little special service compliment, just last week they only had 9 guys on a fire) and while NOW the Union and Department are selling themselves it may be to little to late. If you provide a constant reminder of what you do and are doing and how valiuable you are then normally you win budget wars.

    Good food for though Jason hope to see ya at FDIC.

  13. They are still at it!! I posted the link to your blog in the comments section!

  14. No firefighter needs to flaunt what he does around on the internet. Posting that picture and claiming it as yours or what you do is a disgrace to the "Honor, Pride, and Integrity" you are supposed to carry day in and day out, 24/7 and 365 days a year. I 100% have your back brother.

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  16. You are not alone brother. I would not want to show this photo true or not. We are showing that we throw everything we learned out the window and we don't take safety seriously IMO. If we are keeping a somewhat clean helmet then we are fighting fire the right way. I have seen a video where two firefighters were separated from the hose team during their primary search and they became lost in the smoke and became victoms of a flash over and it was a cringing video to watch.