In the past couple weeks, one firefighter shot his family pets--two dogs that I'm sure his kids are now heartbroken over--so he didn't have to board them while going on a cruise with his girlfriend.

In another story, a firefighter shot a bicyclist because he thought the cyclist was riding with his child too close to a busy roadway. Luckily, the cyclist and his child are still alive, although I'm sure the 3-year-old won't want to take any more bike rides with daddy for a while.

The firefighter who shot his dogs is now going to court to get his job back, claiming he was fired due in part to public opinion, not failing job performance. The firefighter who shot the cyclist has been charged with first degree attempted murder.

I understand the job of firefighting exists in a kind of vacuum of extremes. It entails everything from rolling hose to picking up body parts. If you're not an emotionally balanced person (and even if you are), it probably takes a toll on you in ways the public isn't aware of.

So what should happen to these firefighters who seem wildly unstable and unsafe, perhaps due to the rigors of their job? Is their job an excuse for their actions? Should these people be allowed to return to the service? Would you let these people into your house, or hand them your baby out a burning window?

And is this nothing new? Do you see violent tendencies in your crewmembers? If so, what do you do about it?

Cindy Devone-Pacheco is senior editor for FireRescue magazine.

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Comment by Art "ChiefReason" Goodrich on August 3, 2009 at 2:34pm
If I may call you Cindy, I think that firefighters committing acts of violence aren't hitting the AP wire like other firefighter related crimes, like arson, apparatus accidents and drunk driving.
Don't have a reason as to why, but I don't think we should poo poo it simply because it's not widespread.
The violence described, in my opinion, has NOTHING to do with their day job. I think that it is a behavioral issue unrelated to their chosen profession. Psychological counselling is needed most definitely.
As far as their jobs? They can both kiss them good bye. Neither the union, nor the fire department want employees/members who are going to embarass them with negative publicity.
You've heard the saying that "there is no such thing as bad publicity"? Well, there is if you are a fire department!
Comment by Robert Keck on August 2, 2009 at 11:04am
My very first call I have ever went on was my best friend with a bad heart he was home one day with a friend and started having d.O.b so the friend he was with called 911 by the time I got there CPR was started when I got in to the room my freind was working on my best friend, something you never want to see when your 24 yrs old but in this job it will be seen.

With this story in mind people will seen things that with change them forever some for the worst some the better. Some people will need help not knowing they need help and the crew should be looking for sings or pleds for help.

They say don't do this job if you caint take the bad with it, but how do you know if you don't do it?

I guess what I'm trying to say is those you wrote about. The things they did might just be a cry to help. From the things they have seen and yes they might not be fit for the job.
Comment by Anthony on August 2, 2009 at 1:08am
What your talking about here is an extream end of the scale. I don't feel that every firefighter who gets into a bar fight should be cast aside like theye have some terible desease but i do feel that if you shoot your animals because your too cheep/lazy to care for them then yes you got to go. and again if your shooting people then you need help. but you should have your family behind you trying to help you get better..Now if you happen to get into a fight with your wife\husband and it gets alittle physical or (god forbid) you spank your kids should you be banned for life from the dept? the ptsd thing is real in my opinion and it is also used as a crutch as stated above. so what do you do?? how about trying to figure out why your brother or sister is having these issues and help them. mabe it's from the job or mabe it's from something else. or mabe even it was a bad decision that he/she regrets but can't change the past. i beleave everyone should get a second chance. how many people have made a bad decisin in there past? most everyone has and most people want to change it. this is a subject that needs to be adressed better by "the powers that be" and society i know people who have done things like stolen a pack of cigorettes at 18 years old and now can't get on a dept because of it. or gotten into a fist fight with the neighbor and now is a "violent offender"that to me is a bit over the top. if the person is constently getting into fights or steeling or what ever then yes it's time to think about weather he/she is mentally equiped to do the job. but i beleave everyone can change if given the proper motivation and opertunity and support.
Comment by Michael J Burke on August 1, 2009 at 9:40am
I don't think it is a wideswread thing. I do agree with oldman that it may be a part of a changing society. I have seen similar issues rear there head and like he said above if it does not affect his/hers job performance or if it was an incidence off the job it would be hard pressed to disipline said person. Right wrong or indiffernt
unfortunately that is the way society is turning. Most Firefighters from my experience are decent hardworking people. The stress can manifest in strange ways theough with sometimes serious consequences.
Comment by Oldman on July 31, 2009 at 5:44pm
In the first case, (and I'm not an attorney), unless there is documented proof of poor job performance, he will probably be reinstated. The second case, not to downplay the first one, is considerably more serious, but may possibly be plea bargained to a misdemeanor assault. As in the first case, he too, could conceivably get his job back as well.

In the "few" years I've been involved in public service, this type of violence wasn't as pronounced as it appears to be now. I've watched society change over the last 40+ years to a more tolerable to an almost indifferent culture. Moral and ethical values have changed from, "What is right", or "what can I do to help", to one of "whats in it for me" mentality.

As what I think my learned colleague is alluding to in his post above, all too many times someone uses PTSD as an excuse or crutch. In WWII, it was called "shell shock. After Viet Nam it was changed and redefined. PTSD is a well documented and recognized illness. Unless and until one witnesses or experiences this condition, can one understand how this can cause someone who is on most days as "normal" as the next person, turn around one night and barricade themselves and start shooting at "Charlie" because he was back in country. And then not remember doing it the next day. PTSD might play a role in a few instances, but I don't buy into it for most.

Are there violent tendencies with crew members? I have had a few members/partners who by definition, displayed violent tendencies. Only the one described above ever "wigged out" at least to my knowledge. Fortunately, the others I have known realized they did not have the mentality for this job and went into something else.

Society, environment, and possibly changing generations all may play a part. Where one will speak or act unabashed, others such as myself were taught that some things are not said or done in mixed company.

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