San Francisco Chief Bans Helmet Cameras after Airline Crash
Ban on video cameras comes after images from Asiana Airlines crash are shown

A San Francisco Fire Department ban on video cameras now explicitly includes helmet-mounted devices that film emergency scenes, according to Chief Joanne Hayes-White. The edict comes after images taken in the aftermath of the July 6 Asiana Airlines crash at the San Francisco airport led to questions about first responders' actions, which resulted in a survivor being run over by a fire truck. Read More.

Good idea or knee-jerk reaction?

What is your departmen't policy on helmet cameras?

Views: 860

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The helmet cam is a double edged sword, it can hurt and help but an outright ban gives the impression that the department has something to hide

on medical calls I would agree no helmet cams because of the HIPPA laws relating to the responders

but on a fire...The cam would be a handy tool to evaluate tactics, fire condition, assist in the investigation and the PIA.

the "privacy" of a fire is crock and a knee jerk reaction

What can you really get from a helmet cam at a structural fire that you couldn't get from interviewing the firefighters involved?

This is a departmental decision that is probably suported by the different legal aspects of what is going on right now within that department. 


But the double edged sword that now has to be considered is what is the difference between a recording device in a police cruiser and the remote microphones some police oficers are wearing that link back to that recording device in the cruiser?  Is this now also a liability?

you might see something that somebody cannot recall at a specific time. speaking in general terms most firefighters are observant but they are not recording robots and some firefighters communications skills aint that good

liability in a legal situation would be different that a camera simply recording what a firefighter does while doing the job. If the camera was a hinderence or interfered with what he or she was doing i'd agree with the liability aspect but the potential to show what its like is invaluable.

my department bans all photography for "liability" reasons but I did ask a chief what was he going to do about civilians who take video and give it to the FD? that puts the department in a liability situation because (in flolrida) most video can be declaired to be public property (we have this thing called the sunshine law here which makes most everything public domain) so helmet cam or not, cameras are everywhere so whatever is going on is going to get taped

I think it can be a good training tool.  I think some guy use them to help their ego trip.  They sould not be allowed to be private property, and the firefighter can do what he wants with them.  I think dash cams, helmet cams and other media can be a great tool to learn from our mistakes.  However, they should be limited and controlled.  Maybe the Safety Officer using one, so everyone else can see what he saw? Just be proactive and deal with the issue, before you have too. 


Speaking specifically about structural fires, what exactly will be picked up through the smoke?

Such decisions regarding recording devices is a management decision, so I don't really see this as a knee jerk reaction. In regards to training situations, sure fine for training, but leave it at that. Honestly, I can do a search of anything fire related and there is typically a video to use as training. When it comes to those helmet cam videos, I really don't see them as that useful for training purposes, as mentioned, they tend to show darkness and smoke.


There really IS a difference between a drive cam on a rig or police car and policy for helmet cams.  Most drive cams can show conditions see at arrival, which help with size up etc. I have seen times where there was an accident and the drive cam exhonorated the apparatus driver. For police, I'm sure there is a whole other set of reasons for drive cams with audio recordings. With helmet cams, most tend to be a personal camera and not part of the dept, so as such, such policies as here are not uncommon.

in relation to structure fires not much (I know what you mean by the smoke or black out once they get inside and start operating) but via the audio, certain sounds can translate how the member is progressing what they are encountering and you always get glimpses of some sights because the FF and the camera minus the feelings are on the same plane.

I will concede that you have a point but unless there is a viable reason for not having them, why a ban if the individual not the department is buying them?

many things were laughed at in the fire service when they came out such as the need for individual radios (something you and I being from the north knows is an indispensable tool) BUT when I suggested it in florida I was laughed at as being a stupid idea because of cost-(of course) then a fear that every firefighter having a radio would make the fireground sound like a CB radio convention.

I pointed out that training prevents the unnecessary chit chat and in my own experience I was trained that you only spoke when spoken to, the radio is for you to receive instructions not to talk unless you had an emergency or problem and in my opinion it bridges a gap with PASS devices I can say where I am  with a radio, the PASS just tells someone i'm in trouble---but i'm getting off topic

I agree that we disagree but since cameras have been around for a long time and used in the emergency service community just as long, I reject liability as an excuse to ban helmet cams because since they've been around I am aware of no legal action that has put a department in legal jeopardy. I am aware of responders taking pictures when they should have been doing their jobs or taking pictures of a questionable nature but never a beef over a FF who has a cam on their helmet recording their movements

my department has banned all of us taking pictures for unspecified "liability" reasons and i'm not gonna fight my bosses over it BUT if a civilian captures video of a screwup and gets is out before the department can become aware of it...that could be a problem

so the ARFF's of SFFD ran over a victim, its a screwup, its sad but its also a learning experience because it exposed a tactical problem so the FF did the department a favor. ARFF don't get crashes every day so something like this happening didn't surprise me

Our dept has a policy regarding the use. Members are allowed to wear and use helmet cameras, but we CANNOT post them to social media sites or our website. They are used for review and critique only.

Is She upset that the girl was run over or that camera has evidence that they ran over her? Accidents happen, but apparently San Francisco doesn't want any evidence of their mistakes.

I had thought about that as well. It does raise one's eyebrows.

Reply to Discussion


Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2022   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service