A Commentary by CHIEF BILLY GOLDFEDER
FirefighterCloseCalls.com

Hey...

Some of you may have already been following this piece directly from the Oregonian newspaper. But in case you haven't, I wanted to pass it along. It is about another (see related articles below for other related) tragic booze related death of a Firefighter with her Brother and Sister Firefighters ... this time at a firefighter conference.

20-year-old Shannon Halvorson got beyond seriously wasted at a motel party and she ended up dead ...and her grieving Dad has been fighting for years for some accountability in the loss of his Daughter.

This is multi-day series article about Firefighter Halvorson and how some describe that: her fellow volunteer firefighters killed her. During a night of what we all know to be "typical firefighter conference/convention" partying, at a motel five years ago, they got the underage girl so wasted that she should have been hospitalized This happened at a fire service conference -- the Oregon Volunteer Firefighters Association Convention.

Bottom line: be it in a home, a bar, a party or at a conference or convention, if an individual isn't responsible, then those hosting, sponsoring or watching the event have to take charge and be responsible-or someone's kid ends up dead. That's the issue. Death prevention...again. Sort of a Brotherhood/Sisterhood thing.......but often we end up thinking: B.M.A. (Brotherhood My A**)

DEATH OF A FIREFIGHTER:

Article:
http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/2008/08/death_of_a_fire...
Video:

http://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/index.ssf/death_of_a_firefighter/

RELATED ARTICLES:

D.U.I ... F.U.I.?? What Can YOU Do?
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?id=11413&s...
ALL IN THE FAMILY:
http://firefighterclosecalls.com/secretPHPmessage.php?issueID=379
DRUGS, BOOZE, US and THEM:
http://cms.firehouse.com/content/article/article.jsp?id=56762&s...

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As always we need to watch out for our family of firefighters, weather we are out drinking at a fire or at a conference, when ever we do things together we should have each others back, I don't know so much about the under age drinking, if she is old enough to put her life on the line in the fire service or to serve her country why is the drinking age an issue, but I do not condone under age drinking. Watch out for your people and be safe out there.

Ken
OMG! I never thought this could happen! We are suppose to look out for one another, and no one even did their job of trying to save/help someone in need.
ONE firefighter contributed to her death.
A misleading press release was done. It was not a lie. She did "fall".
You cannot indict the entire Oregon or national fire service for the actions of a few. Many in that room that night probably don't even know or remember that she was there.
She could have stayed home and done something with the family instead.
She could have stayed at her hotel instead of going to a party.
Drinking is a subculture to the "fire conventions". If done in moderation, it is a great way to socialize.
We live in a society where we no longer seem to want to take accountability or responsibility for our own actions.
Parents want to believe that Shannon's fellow firefighters should have protected her, but I see nothing that they did to do the same. If they knew that she was known to "party"-and as parents, they would know that-then why did they let her go? They probably babysat for her.
There is plenty of blame to go around and sadness, for that matter.
But blaming everyone but themselves will not erase the fact that THEY failed her just as her fellow firefighters did on that fateful night.
IMHO.
TCSS.
Art
Accountability: noun, the obligation to bear the consequences for failure to perform as expected; accountableness.

Something that unfortunately is sorely lacking in the world (not just in public service) today. I have watched the video interview with Shannon's father, and I admire his composure and demeanor. Having raised 6 children myself, I'm not too sure I'd be that composed. Well knowing my personality, I know I wouldn't.

I find it incredible that people can be so oblivious to the circumstances surrounding the incident. I cannot and will not point fingers at anyone because I haven't been privileged to all the evidence. But if what is being reported is in fact a true account, then the "brothers", the Association, up to and including the Medical Examiner and District Attorney involved should all bear accountablity.
This incident is truly sad. Men who routinely save lives were too intoxicated to notice that this young woman was in danger, or that encouraging her to drink put her there.
With alcohol, judgement is the first thing to go.
A family lost a daughter, the community lost a friend and I pray this incident will not be forgotten. Learn from it.
This trajedy is a very touchy subject. First of all, fire family or not, no should condone a fellow member drinking while underage. They do not know their own limits. I have our state convention coming in a couple weeks, and I am always aware of the younger members. I watch out to make sure they are not sneaking anything while in my presence or under my roof. Secondly, where were the officers or her parents? If the parents allowed her to go by herself that should have made someone accountable on that department for her safety before she went even though she was 20 years old.
If this was caused by others egging her on to drink more than she should have, then YES they should be held accountable because her judgement was already compromised by alchohol.

Bottom line in the fire service brotherhood - EVERYONE GOES HOME - from a fire or a convention.
1. If you are at a National Conference, you represent your department. If you spend the whole time drinking, you put your department in a bad light. There is a time and place to overdo it, at home with the pager OFF, not where you are representing your department. Period. In my department, we are not even allowed to wear uniform shirts to a grocery store where Liquor is sold.
2. If you still think that the amount you can put away somehow makes you a better human being, go back to the frat house and get started, because we don't need you cluttering up our industry.
3. No person should EVER wake up dead after a night of drinking. The actions, or lack thereof that led to this tragedy should be considered criminal negligence.

Nuff Said!!!
We all hate to lose a fellow firefighter from any cause, but how tragic that it happens in such a preventable manner. I'm a 41 year old firefighter with a 20 year old daughter on my department. I can't imagine the grief that this girl's parents must feel. While pointing fingers and placing blame doesn't accomplish anything, it is certainly imperative to do a post-call critique and learn some valuable lessons. I agree strongly with the other Ed's comments that are already posted. Additionally, I question why 30-40 year old adults feel like they must act like teenagers when they are out of town. This whole story sickens me.
I remember when this happened. My only thoughts are how senseless a loss this was, and why her "Brother" firefighters did nothing to safeguard this underaged member. I don't know what that says about these firefighters, who are in the business of preserving lives, but failed one of their own. Stay safe people, and let's all learn from this the next time one of our own needs help for whatever reason!
Unfortunely this story puts us all in a bad light irregardless if we are paid, paid on call or volunteer. Should of somebody stepped in? Yes, but nobody did and a young fire fighter paid with her life because of it.

The investigation does nothing since it reeks of a cover up not only by the fire fighters involved but the police as well.
What a sad story and I feel for the family of the girl. This should have never happened and a lesson is to be learned from this. Whether anyone pays attention and keeps it from happening again I guess we will have to see. Underage drinking is a problem and needs to be corrected every where. Be safe..
Oh my god Your're kidding me.

Best of Luck for the family with fighting for justice.

Alchohol Kills just as much as ignorance.

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