I have been involved in discussions about this topic for several years and my opinion on those who engage in the practice has never changed.
There is no reason, excuse or logic that can convince me that a firefighter who commits arson is a "good person".
There is no lower form of life in my mind. It is shameful, a betrayal and downright dangerous to those who are the target and to those who respond.
Here is the latest, huge black eye on our nation's fire service:
That's EIGHT who are charged.
Keep in mind, innocent until proven guilty.
But, it doesn't look good for the home team.

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Here's what I'd like to know....how many members does this department have, and you have to wonder if there was a low-level inkling....a gnawing suspicion.....a dawning realization that something was horribly wrong. How can you have EIGHT members of the same department involved in systematic, methodical acts of arson and have the remaining members remain completely in the dark about it?

Did someone from the department speak up, or did they all ignore their suspicions?

Sean raised a good point; what if someone, not necessarily a fellow firefighter, died as a result? How is that a thrill? These fires, according to the article, were set for the thrill of the act, the adrenaline rush of the response....

It's a black stain on the entire fire service.
Can you POSSIBLY imagine what the families who have lost honest and true firefighters in a LODD must be feeling when they read something like this??

Shameful doesn't cover it. It's rage-evoking.
i am a retired firefighter and fire investigator. this topic also interestes me. it appears that firefighter-arsonists (FA) seem to be more prevelent amoung the volunteer ranks. Not that the paid are incapable of being (FA), it just seems to be more of a volunteer thing so they can go to calls. if anyone is going to jump me for knocking volunteers let me say that it would be kind of hard for a paid FF to leave the firehouse, set a fire, come back in time to help out it out. if he was off duty, he cant "come in" to put it out... The craziest (FA) case i have ever heard of is the California fire investigator John Orr who says to this day he's inocent, but wrote extensively on starting fires. orr sounds like he would be an intersting case to reasearch.
Joseph Wambaugh did extensive research on John Orr for his book "Fire Lover". It was loosely adapted into the movie "Point of Origin" starring Ray Liotta and John Leguizama.
And Russ; you are correct. The number of FAs coming from the vollie ranks far outnumber the career ranks for the reasons that you state, among others.
To lend perspective, this snippet was started at another popular website back in August of 2002 and here is what we have through February of this year:
[Quote]Box score update:

Volunteer Firefighter/arsonists: 189
Career firefighters/Arson investigator arsonists: 6
Retirees: 5
Wildland firefighters: 12
Foreign FF arsonists: 1
Career "merry pranksters" :1
Fire Police: 1
Two hatters: 1
Total (that we know about) since the start of the thread: 216[End of quote]

Just another good argument for EXTENSIVE background checks.
John Orr would be an interesting charector to research, but as soon as anyone approaches him for his side of the story on why he did it, he turns you away with a quote along the lines of go interview someone who is an arsonist. The FBI and ATF have tried multiple times to "profile" Mr Orr in prison to no avail

ThePillow Pyro was an immense story and black eye for the fire service for sure, but it seems that we always read about firefighters starting fires to get some action. You want action, join the military and try doing something constructive with your life instead of destructive.
Innocent until proven guilty, but their integrity tarnished forever.

We had an idiot in our department - briefly - who liked to call in false alarms on his cell phone. This was years ago before GPS in cell phones was even thought about. We got him after the third or fourth call, thankfully.

That book, "Fire Lover", is pretty amazing. How someone could have such a fixation on setting large fires and such little regard for other peoples' lives and property is way beyond my ken.

Calling people like this scum or lowlife is an insult to the simpler organisms on the planet. There aren't words in any language that adequately describe FAs.

And while I'm at it, I have to protest the term Firefighter-Arsonist. If one is accused or found guilty of arson, they ain't a firefighter anymore.
I have an intervention for firefighters who are natural pyromaniacs, but haven't gone so far as to commit arson..yet.

Get them in touch with the forestry Deparment, or forestry commission and they can get involved in doing controlled burns. It gives them an outlet for their desire to START fires, without feeling a need to commit arson. Either that, or make them the department liaison to the High School or College Bonfire commitee.

I'm not trying to make light of the subject; I'm just saying there is a positive outlet out there for law-abiding people who feel a need to start fires which doesn't endanger lives or property.

Just my 2¢

I am a member of a departemnt that had 2 members start well they are charged with 11 fires. If you want to read about it go to Saegertown Fire fighters charged, but anyway the after effects are every where lowering donations and the comments but mostly the community has stood up for us. Manly because these stupid kids came from great families who are hurt worse then any of us!

Ok so what to do? One of the steps I want is when NEW MEMBER is brought in they must go visit the local burn center and see first hand what fire can do to a person and the pain and suffering it can cause!

Next spend the time teaching them and training them, a problem I see in so many is there is no real live burn training aloud anymore do to environmental wackos How do you train anyone to fight fire if they can never see fire until they run there first call?? I am not saying go back in time when we used to burn everything we could and take risks we shouldnt but up here you cant even light any fire !!!! sad.

Next look for the clues there are so many we missed or didnt want to see get to them before they get you!!!
I, for one, am exteremely leary when ever I hear a young firefighter say that their reason for joining the department, or the thing they like most about thr job is the adrenaline rush. These are individuals who are here for the wrong reason and are people I wouldn't even trust to repack a hosebed.
Whenever there is a quiet period (ie: months between structure fires, nothing but the ocassional MVA, or gas leak or downed power line) these individuals will become bored and do one of three things ... they will find another department to run with, become bored and quit altogether, OR they will decide to go out and start their own fire in order to get into the action.

The volunteer service needs to spend more time and energy not only looking into the backgrounds of applicants but into their true reasons for joining the department as well.
Art -

Have you ever heard of any firefighters charged with arson because of a spat with the local police force?

I could just see a situation (kind of like the Capt. who was briefly arrested a coupla weeks ago) where the FD wants to burn a house for a drill, but the PD says no. The eventual p-ing contest results in the chief or whoever being led off in handcuffs.

The idea is kind of corny, but couldn't you just see that happening somewhere? It would sure be unfortunate if someone acting in good faith were charged with arson.
no need to wish for the achievable......
I'm lucky....we work alongside local PD, County Sheriffs, and NYS Troopers...but we have a friendly, working relationship with all three. We don't experience the ownership of turf that many others do, but we're the exception, not the norm.
We also enjoy a good working relationship with LE. It's just that when you THINK you've seen everything...

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