BALTIMORE – In any given week, there are headlines across the country about firefighters setting fires.
But, the problem is not a new one.
The issue dates back to at least the early 1800s, Montgomery Township, Pa. Fire Chief Bill Wiegman told attendees at Firehouse Expo recently.
Just how many fires are being set by those who don gear to extinguish them is not really known as there is no national data collection system, the chief said.
“We need a better source for collecting data,” Wiegman said, adding that until that occurs, the magnitude of the problem still remains a mystery.
Among the motives for firefighter arsons include vandalism, excitement, revenge, concealment, profit and extremism. The chief said they also want to be viewed as a hero for helping extinguish the fire.
“Once they start,” he said. “It’s difficult to stop them. There’s an inner drive or impulse that causes a person to do something or act in a certain way…”
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By Kevin Mulrooney (www.FireEngineering.com)
Without a doubt, receiving a FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFGP) award is much more fun than managing it. Especially since most fire departments submit several applications under the various programs over many years until they receive the happy news.
But managing the award is equally as important as receiving it. When our clients receive awards, we present them with some common sense guidelines on how to document expenditures, avoid conflicts, and maintain good records. Our recommendations are based much more on logical book keeping than any accepted fiscal standard. In fact, it's largely based on how we operate our business practices.
"The number one issue we have with our awardees comes within the first minutes of award notification," said Tom Devaney, Director of Operations at JSK Inc/Grant-Guys. "The initial question almost immediately is, 'Can we use the money for something else? We don't want that anymore.'" The short answer is no. If you applied for an item and were awarded that item, it is highly unlikely the award will be greatly altered. This is is because the questions are computer scored for various items, and the narrative was approved by the peer review committee for that specific item.
The reality is that much of the AFGP is based on the honor system. As citizens and firefighters, it's up to us to be honest and keep good records. But many awards are audited. Recently, one of our clients was the subject of an AFGP desk review. We assisted the fire department for two reasons: first, we wanted to learn what should be documented to help our other clients in the future; and secondly--and most importantly--it was the right thing to do.
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Kevin Mulrooney is a 30 year volunteer firefighter/EMT/Hazmat Tech. He is the owner of JSK Inc., "the Grant-Guys." JSK is NYâs largest fire grant writing firm securing a record $2 million by round four of the 2013 AFGP. JSK represents 200 fire departments in nine states.
Congrats to the McAllen Fire Department in McAllen, Texas for winning the Good Morning America 5 Alarm Firefighter Challenge and representing Texas! McAllen FD will be donating their winnings to the Texas Line of Duty Task Force.
You can watch clips of them competing on Good Morning America here.
You can see more pictures at the City of McAllen Facebook Page.
"The Houston Fire Department has launched an investigation into offensive comments a firefighter allegedly posted on his personal Facebook page while he was searching for a drowning victim. The post on Kerry Williams' page called the victim, Victor Gonzalez, a "drunk Mexican" and when the fire department's search was over the post read, "We are done with our search no body recover (sic) and no 'drunk Mexican.'" His daughter is furious about the post and is demanding Williams' termination. "How dare you sit there and talk about my father like that?" questioned Gracie Gonzalez."
The full article can be found here: http://abc13.com/news/facebook-comment-made-about-drowning-victim-sparks-hfd-probe/149074
This troubling story brings to the light the importance of having a set Social Media policy in place at your department. Even if you already have one in place, it is a good idea to review existing policies with all Fire & EMS employees frequently. Below are a few links/tools to help you:
Online Course on Social Media and Emergency Services:
Social Media Communique:
SOCIAL MEDIA: Postings May Compel ESOs to Take Disciplinary Action:
VFIS of Texas NEWS
Here you will find helpful information regarding firefighters, ems responders, and updates in insurance policies.