Firemen Are Idiots, Not Heroes

Reading time: 1,843 words, 5 pages, 4 to 7 minutes.

WARNING: if you bypassed the warning on the Home page, here it is: “if you can’t stand to have your cherished beliefs challenged, then you better stop reading this and watch the crap on TV instead.”

It’s time to dispel another myth; firefighters are NOT heroes; most of them are idiots and overpaid government bureaucrats.

Here are four examples of firefighting idiocy that I’ve seen.

1) – A single-story commercial building (Palm Dairies) in Thompson, MB had large, multiple pane windows. The interior was on fire. There was smoke but no flames. The interior was black. In other words, it was ready to flash-over. A fire requires three things: fuel, heat and oxygen. This fire lacked oxygen. The proper procedure should have been breaking a small window pane, insertion of a hose with a mist spray to reduce heat and thus prevent flash-over.

Instead, the fireman, using axes and pikes began breaking all the windows on several sides of the building. Being a windy day, no sooner did they break the windows than the entire interior burst into flame (flash-over) with a heat so intense it drove the firemen back. The entire building was quickly engulfed in flames and destroyed.

2) – Apartment building – an old, large, multiple-story, wood frame, multi-unit apartment block once stood on the corner of Broadway and Main in Winnipeg, across from the CN Station. There were multiple fire trucks on hand with only two hoses in action; one on either side of the apartment block. The water from the hoses was directed through the smoke above the roof and landed on the other side of the building.

As a bystander, I could see the futility of trying to extinguish smoke. There was one fireman on each of the two hoses while dozens of firemen milled around scratching their nether regions. The two active firemen were getting each other wet as the water sprayed over the roof of the burning apartment block drenched the other firemen on the other side of the building. It looked like a competition to see who could drench the other guy the most.

Could the Fire Chief not see this? Needless to say, the building burned to the ground. There were fatalities. I know that the City Council had tried in vain to demolish this old building. Perhaps the firemen were performing a sort of urban renewal? If so, they did a great job removing an urban blight albeit at the lives of several tenants.

3) – a two story house fire in northern Winnipeg. One upper floor bedroom was burning. There were multiple firemen standing around scratching their nether regions while one fireman with a hose on an adjacent rooftop was directing a stream of water through the window onto the bedroom floor.

A room consists of six planes or surfaces; four walls, a floor and a ceiling. Heat and flames rise. From my vantage point standing on the sidewalk beside the burning house, I could see two walls and the ceiling engulfed in flames. If I had had a fire hose where I was standing, I would have directed the water spray at the ceiling where it would have splashed two walls and run down onto the floor. In other words from my vantage point I could have drenched four of the six planes (2 walls, ceiling and floor).

It might even have subdued enough of the fire so other firemen with hoses and breathing apparatus could climb the stairs, opened the bedroom door and extinguished the fire on the two remaining walls and saved the house. Instead, the idiot fireman on the roof was directing his water spray at only one of the six planes (floor), not the four I could have.

Witnessing such idiocy, I turned and left; knowing the house was lost. Even if idiot firemen extinguish a fire, they usually do so much water damage that much of the remainder of a building has to be gutted and rebuilt. More on this below.

4) – a color newspaper photo showed the interior of a municipal garage outside Thunder Bay engulfed in flames. The garage door was wide open providing the fire with endless amounts of oxygen. Again, there’s one fireman with a hose seen in the photo. Probably not pictured are the rest of the crew standing around scratching their nether regions.

As if supplying the burning interior with sufficient amounts of oxygen wasn’t stupid enough, the lone fireman with a hose was directing the water onto the roof which was NOT burning. Since it was a peaked roof, the water ran off the roof never touching the fire inside. Not surprising, the building was a complete loss.

Regular readers know I place little credence in conspiracies. Given a choice between conspiracy and incompetence; stupidity is usually the likeliest reason. This is especially true when it involves two of the stupidest creatures on earth; unions and governments. I suppose it’s possible that these firemen knew what they were doing and deliberately burned these building to the ground (for whatever reason). But, all FOUR of these cases? That’s highly unlikely.

There are cases of deliberate destruction. The twin towers of 9/11 were a 40 year old, asbestos-filled urban renewal project as well as a false flag event. And, the demolition of Building 7 conveniently destroyed Enron, WorldCom and other evidence of oligarchic malfeasance but, this is a story for another time and is already well-documented.

I was once in the renovation business. I’ve seen the amount of damage water can do to wooden buildings. That damage can result from either slow leakage over a long period of time or saturation in a short period of time that’s not properly dried before being ‘buttoned-up’. With only my fingers, I’ve crumbled multiple 2X4 and 2X6 lumber destroyed by dry rot caused by water.

So why do idiot firemen destroy with water saturation that which was not destroyed by fire? Because they’re in a hurry to get back to the fire house so they can continue scratching their nether regions, watch TV, lift weights, cook and play video games. The reason they give is they need to extinguish the fire as fast as possible to be able to respond to the next emergency.

That’s a crock of shit. They can send all the fire trucks and most of the crew back but all it takes is a couple of fireman to remain with a garden hose and a $25 hand-held heat detector. Instead of flooding the entire building after the fire is out, a simple heat detector can find hot spots that can be extinguished with a small amount of water. But what do I know? I’m not an idiot fireman. It certainly makes me wonder what it takes (or doesn’t take) to become a fire chief! Obviously, a complete lack of common sense is a requirement.

So, I get a little skeptical and suspicious when firemen try to make themselves look like heroes. Lest you think this is merely one man’s slanted opinion, let’s examine some statistics and you’ll see how I come by my slanted opinion. Look at the graphic below from NPR that shows the number of U.S. work related deaths by occupation.


The four deadliest occupations are fishermen, loggers, pilots and farmers/ranchers. Also above the national average for work-related deaths are police and construction workers. However the so-called heroes; our glorious firefighters’ work-related deaths are BELOW the national average. In fact, firemen are about as likely to die on the job as cashiers. Some heroes!

In the article facetiously titled “I Put My Life on the Line Writing This Article!” says, “firefighters having a lower death rate than the average American worker and barely edging out cashiers in terms of putting their lives on the line. Most cashiers are killed on the job because of homicides, whereas a quarter of firefighter deaths are from fire truck accidents – and the numbers have declined, apparently, after concerted efforts to convince these heroes to buckle their seatbelts.

“Fishermen, loggers, pilots and farmers/ranchers have the most dangerous jobs in America. Police officers and sheriffs fall below farmers, but above construction workers. About half of their deaths are because of car accidents, often the fault of their own driving habits.”

So when’s the last time you heard a fisherman, logger or pilot claiming to be a “hero” for “putting their lives on the line”? How many of them hand out heroism awards to their fellow union workers? And, oh yes, not only are firefighters government workers but they’re union workers who do everything they can to put volunteer fire fighters out of work – people who donate their time for free and make idiot, overpaid firemen look like the cretins they are.

There’s another myth that firemen and police deserve their enormous pensions because so many of them die shortly after retiring. That’s another crock of shit.

Steven Greenhut, writes, “police are the longest-living public employee category followed closely by firefighters. They live well into their 80s, enjoying those millionaires’ pensions that their unions have secured for them.”

I’ve been involved in logging equipment for a number of years. I’ve watched insurance companies’ half-hearted attempts to regulate and standardize equipment fire suppression systems. It amounted to naught. Despite a high incidence of equipment fires, it’s easier for insurance companies to simply raise their rates than help reduce fires. The same applies to house fires and resulting water damage. You, the homeowner or renter, are paying more for insurance than is necessary to cover the additional renovation costs caused by idiot firemen’s’ excessive water damage.

We, the taxpayers are also paying through the nose for their rich salaries and pensions. In the article $822,000 Worker Shows California Leads U.S. Pay Giveaway Bloomberg reports an extreme example; bankrupt California where public salaries and pensions far outstrip the private sector as well as in Californian’s $609,000 Check Shows True Retirement Cost

Lest you think this is only an American problem, Canada’s Pension Tension reports that, “Public sector pay: already paid $19 billion more every year than if they were paid at private sector norms.”

“Federal public servants: pay only about 37% of their pension costs—taxpayers pay the rest. Estimates show these are underfunded by between $150 and $230 billion. (There are billions more in unfunded liabilities at the provincial and local level as well as other public sector institutions.)

“Early retirement: full pensions and extended benefits only exist in the public sector. Many civil servants can retire at 55. Governments even top up CPP/QPP for those retiring early.”

As I said, we homeowners, renters and taxpayers are being fleeced. The more people know about this, the better we can stop this “heroic” propaganda and pressure our governments to be accountable for their excessive pensions; beginning with politicians themselves.

So, are all firemen idiots? No, I’ve known a few well-meaning ones, but most are idiots. And, are firemen entirely useless? No, they do serve a function. They sometimes save lives and they often prevent fires from spreading. For that, we should be grateful.

But are they heroes? Not on my sweet ass they aren’t.

March 9, 2013


About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I'm back in stocks. I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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114 Responses to Firemen Are Idiots, Not Heroes

  1. Jacovi flightson says:

    Sir who wrote this, if your house were on fire and you were trapped in it, and I knew it was you, I would come in and try to save you. I would do the same for your family. That is what we do in the fire service, we risk our lives to save others. Why don’t you share your opinions with the thousands of families who have changed from the fire service saving the life of one of their loved ones in a car wreck, a medical emergency, or a fire. Thanks and have a great day.

  2. FireEducator says:

    “A fire requires three things: fuel, heat and oxygen.”…. It requires 4 things. You also need to have a self sustaining chemical chain reaction. Thanks though champ.

    • gerold says:

      A “self-sustaining chemical chain reaction” as you say is just a fancy term for ‘fire’. You know, that thing which requires 3 elements: fuel, heat and oxygen. Sophistry is not required …


  3. Trent Brown says:

    Gerold, all i can say to your blog post and all your replies is a big fat AMEN!!! I honestly cannot stand firefighters. Every single one of them is a self proclaimed hero. The sad part is that if you have a negative opinion or observation about firefighters, the PC police conviently runs out of tampoons and they start bitching. I would love to see the fire department go private sector. I think people would stop singing their praises shortly after. My line of work is EMS, (not fire based) and one time long ago when i was doing a paramedic clinical at a fire station, i had the displeasure of having to sit at the station all day with no calls listening to the firefighters bitch and moan about how they dont make enough money with their fat bellies hanging over their belt buckles. I have a great plan to lower city taxes. Lay off firefighters!! Just like you said, it only takes maybe one or two idiots to spray water on a fire. Unfortunately i have to work with the firefighters everyday in my job, and you are absolutely right, they are definitely idiots. Whats absolutely hilarious is when the non fire based ambulance beats the fire engine onscene! Its always the best part of my day to tell a Ketchup Dick that they are useless and to go back to their pizzas at the station.

    Anyways, thanks for this blog post. It was a good read and very entertaining watching you make an ass out of these idiots.

  4. Bill B says:

    And just so we’re clear, you’re passing judgement on most firefighters because of what you’ve seen in the above four examples? Let’s keep in mind that your stories are just one side to any of those events. Do you know more about firefighting beyond putting wet stuff on hot stuff? I’ll bet you do. But, I’ll also bet that it’s not much. Considering that you’re not a professional firefighter, nor a trained volunteer, you hardly seem a credible source for how a fire should be fought. To get an idea of the firefighting community’s character one needs look no further than the 300+ brave souls who climbed doomed towers for the sake of rescuing as many as they could. Are there dipshits in the firefighting profession? Some cowards even? Absolutely. But, show me a profession that is dipshit free.

    As an almost 10 year vet of a big city fire department I can say without exaggeration that I’ve seen many fires. Where I can only count on one hand the amount of buildings that we couldn’t save. More importantly, I dream of the burnt faces that I couldn’t get to in time. Am I a hero? No. I do a job that I feel I’m made for. It’s a way of life no different than shaping surf boards. It’s where I fit in and what I do. But, to say that most firefighters are idiots, when I’m sure you haven’t met 1/100,000,000 of the world’s firefighters, is by leaps and bounds dumber and more ignorant as you try to make us appear.

  5. Cliff says:

    I watched a Porsche that had been rearended catch fire last month. Older 911, 81, 82 maybe. I’ve seen fireman do a lot if stupid shit, but this was really dumb. The fire got hotter and the magnesium engine block lit up. Magnesium burns white hot, and if you put water on it, it explodes. I’m an engineer, not a fireman. As much as these idiots are paid, they should absolutely know this. Nope. Idiots hit it with a massive stream of water and are lucky we weren’t all hurt or killed. I yelled across the street after that they were stupid. Overpaid morons.

  6. FireFeme says:

    In whichever capacity one chooses to make a living, they are all honorable. How you preform in that capacity is attributed to one thing and one thing only and that is attitude. I am a female candidate for a volunteer Fire Fighter position in the city I was born in and the same city to which my birth Father died in a flashfire. I made a conscious choice to become a Fire Fighter before I had any knowledge of the flashfire that took his life. My choice came from the heart after many days serving the community and witnessing “everyday heros”. I found that the role of a Fire Fighter a lifestyle and a duty to serve and protect.
    I feel the remark about “Chiefs” being “Indians” extreamly inappropriate and not constructive. In regards to how a Chief handles a situation, you are more than welcome to voice your opinion however I would personally go to the source and inquiry why the particular calls where executed to understand rather to assume and publicly condem. Lastly, in regards to Hall Culture, in addition to maintaining a lifestyle ( working, out, training excersises, team building) there are daily tasks that need to be preformed to ensure a Hall is operating at it’s peek. Perhaps you can contact your local hall and offer to volunteer for one day and who knows, maybe you’ll uncover a passion.

  7. Chris Baars says:

    As a further comment to Kevin B I respect your comments but I believe the methods used by fire fighters in the USA are out dated. Cutting a hole in a roof above a fire that has flashed over is to be honest ridiculous. Sending fire fighters above a fire of that ferocity is stupid the risk our weighs the benefits. Please don’t take this as a dig at you its not. It’s what you have been taught is the best method and so you believe it. I feel the fire department is the us could learn a lot from Sweden and the Uk

  8. Chris Baars says:

    I suggest if the Author of this article wants to be taken seriously that he gets his terminology correct. Two phenomenon”s of compartment fire fighting are flash overs (ventilated compartments) and back draughts (unventilated compatments)

    The Author states that there is smoke but no visible flame. Which is a major indication of an under ventilated fire and a back draught situation. As he correctly stated the three components for fire aka the triangle of fire I was very suppressed to see that he made a such and incorrect statement. Surely if a fire was about to flash over it would have to be ventilated, but how can this be with no visible flame.

    please do not listen to this guy. I’m not saying fire fighters are hero’s but they are very educated in their profession and as such can save people’s lives on a regular basis which in turn I believe deserves respect.

    • gerold says:

      Do you know what a ‘red herring’ is? It’s a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is used to divert attention from the real issue. The real issue is the observations I presented, not the terminology I used. The observations stand so if that’s the only flaw in the article, then your rebuttal doesn’t have legs.

      Furthermore, if fire fighters are as educated in their profession as you say they are, please explain the four fiascos I described.

      – Gerold

      • Chad says:

        It is possible that you can’t see what is really happening in these scenarios, mostly do to your ignorance to the craft of being a Fireman. This is work truly only understood after doing it for years, and then not all get it right. It is a flawed system.Most are not able to see what may be the purpose of the actions of the few on a emergency scene that are actually working with purpose. And unfortunately neither do a large majority of people working in the fire service.

        This is just picking out a few scenarios from a bad department to serve your article. This is not representative of operations in all departments. Large metro departments have very busy fire areas that act with very exacting tactics and save lives and property on a continual basis.

        Firemen are not hero’s by default. I believe the emergency services as a whole should be more reserved and slow down the egos.

        Please don’t pretend you are educated enough in the topic to make you an expert on tactics used in the fire service. If you are successful in being honest with yourself I won’t pretend that like journalists are you have successfully written a one sided article that has served your agenda.

        • gerold says:

          Congratulations, Chad! You’ve committed almost every fallacy in the book and then some; argument from authority, blind loyalty, straw man, jumping to conclusions and if there were an ‘old boys club’ fallacy you’d be guilty of it too.

          a) I never claimed to be an expert, but fire has been around for millions of years and so have basic firefighting techniques; cool it down, deprive it of oxygen, remove fuel or any combination of these. Admittedly there are some situations requiring specialized fire fighting techniques, but I deliberately chose simple examples that did not require rocket science. For example, there’s not much point dousing a burning floor if the walls and ceiling are on fire. You have to admit it’s stupid directing water through smoke rather than on the burning fuel. Did you actually read the article or do you get your exercise jumping to conclusions?

          b) half the examples were volunteer fire fighters

          c) the other half of the examples were metro fire departments

          d) each of the four examples were from four different jurisdictions so I did not cherry-pick to ‘serve’ my article.

          e) the four examples cover a forty year period which proves there’s no cure for stupidity.

          Rather than write a book, I chose these four examples because statistically they are what’s called ‘representative’ samples. Your implication that I know nothing and should believe in the so-called experts is the same bullshit used by incompetent workers and government bureaucrats to justify their cushy jobs and over-priced salaries, benefits and pensions. Firemen are idiots, not heroes.

          • goatstaog says:

            I find it very appropriate none of your replies have been followed up due to (i’m sure) you confounding them with the stepping stones of logic they lack with their ‘arguments’. Red herrings abound which then are fried on the grill of logic. See , everyone is on the bandwagon but that wagon is on fire with all participants holding their own personal tank of gas. Good riddance to them all – especially if they cannot sort humor from their emotions.

          • gerold says:

            Very perceptive of you. It hadn’t occurred to me, but you’re right; not one rebuttal.


          • Bill B says:

            Lol… in forty years you happened upon four measly incidents that you think were mishandled? That’s pretty funny.

            The point to sweeping the floor (or dousing it in your words) is to cool the floor so a firefighter can advance further in to a room. You’re the type of know it all who would point the stream directly at the base of a fire and cook himself like a lobster.

            Half of the incidents were volunteer and the other half were metro? You mean two were volley and two were metro. Again, you’ve wisely built your opinion on four measly incidents that occurred over the span of four long, sexless decades of your life.

            But, you’re right. Four incidents that you claim to know every detail about (how else could you take a contrary stance to the tactics used?) Should define hundreds of thousands of men and women.

          • gerold says:

            So, you think idiocy is funny? It might be funny if lives and property weren’t at risk, but effective fire-fighting would save more of both.

            If your reading comprehension were better, you’d know that in the incident where the fireman was sweeping (dousing) the floor, the walls and ceiling were ablaze making it impossible for anyone to enter the room and no other water hose was directed at them. By the way, the whole house was lost. More idiocy!

            Yes the four incidents I witnessed over a forty year span were all examples of idiocy. I didn’t know there was a goal of watching a lot of fires. Maybe I should get out more and start chasing fire engines. I never said the four incidents were representative, but you have to admit four out of four is a lousy record regardless of the time span.

            Your inappropriate comment about my love life has nothing to do with this article. I’ve known and loved more wonderful women than you’ll likely see in your entire life let alone make love with.

            By the way, the article I later wrote on identifying incompetent people was instructive.
            I learned that incompetent people are unable to recognize and appreciate competence greater than theirs. They only recognize people that are more INcompetent than they are. The same applies to stupidity and idiocy. This likely explains why so many of these comments from fire fighters prove the title of this article is correct.


          • Bill B says:

            Oh and your assessment on back draft (not a flash over, dipshit) was beyond idiotic and would get you killed. Break a small pane of glass? Assuming every effing house has a small pane of glass providing access to the room engulfed (they don’t) doing so would still cause a violent reaction. The slightest introduction of oxygen will cause an explosion at the point of introduction. Or, did you mean to pop a small hole in a window pane? How does one do that without shattering an entire window? You wouldn’t know.

            Spray a mist? An absolutely laughable suggestion from a total know nothing. The “mist” would evaporate as soon as it leaves the nozzle. Dumb. Ass.

          • gerold says:

            Once again, you prove that reading ability and reading comprehension are two different things. What part of “large, multiple pane windows” don’t you understand?


        • Bill B says:

          OK so all those times when I was on search and rescue and the tip man swept the floor so we could both advance in, we were doing it wrong? Tell me how we should have fought those fires in the row homes that would have burned if we didn’t know what we were doing.

          I noticed you skipped over one major point I made. How do you justify trashing 100% of people in a profession that you know zero about? How could you possibly think that 4 incidents are the rule to the way firefighters handle tens of thousands of calls a day, nation wide?

          Sorry about the sex life comment. I shouldn’t have insulted someone I don’t know, who insults people he doesn’t know. See my point? No. Of course you don’t. If you did you wouldn’t have fired back about what and who you’ve probably done more than me.

          It’s not 4 out of 4 incidents, you dolt. It was 4 incidents you witnessed out of the millions of emergency responses that have been made before and after whatever you saw.

          Again, I find this post more amusing than I do offensive. How could you possibly be taken for anything more than a joke? Yeah the amputee analogy you used for someone else was great. Except, there’s a huge difference between identifying an obvious problem and correcting it. Most folks can tell when a limb needs amputation (like the guy I had last month who was hit by a train). But, seeing doesn’t make you qualified to perform the operation.

          There’s a lot more to firefighting than putting water on fire. You don’t know anything about it. That’s fine. It’s just baffling that you could know so little and judge so many. It’s beyond ignorant.

  9. Rsie20 says:

    I don’t total disagree with the post. I know a lot of firefighters and ems workers who are full of themselves. I myself am a firefighter and run ems every day. Yes, our job is hard and dangerous, anyone who says it’s not has no clie. The reason it doesn’t make the top 10 dangerous is because of our training however there are explosions and collapses that make it very dangerous we do not save a life on every call. However we do the job when called into action. And everyone respects us. I don’t do the job for glory or anything, I do it because I enjoy being there when people need help.

  10. Kevin B says:

    Admittedly, I read few of the below comments and so may very well be reiterating previous comments.

    Although I appreciate everyone’s opinion, I do challenge yours.

    Addressing your four specific examples, firefighting involves more then dumping water on fire. If large hoses are not available, then applying water to a large fire will have no effect as the water will evaporate before reaching said fire. In this case, it’s the smart choice to use the small hose to cool other areas, such as a ceiling or roof, and wait for larger lines to be deployed.
    In your first example, you talk about flashover conditions. By your description, it seems as if backdraft/smoke explosion conditions were present, not flashover, meaning the best course of action would be to stand back and cool the building without breaking windows. The fire would smother itself.
    If it was flashover conditions, the best course of action is to leave the windows alone, climb atop the roof and cut 4×4 or 6×6 ft hole to allow smoke and heat to exit vertically.

    Your second example doesn’t provide enough information for a thorough reply. Perhaps cooling the smoke to prevent fire spread was the best choice. A firefighter may have been injured, which usually results in a switch to a defensive mode.

    Without entertaining the last two examples, it’s a safe bet to place your trust in these professionals. They are trained to a high level in what they do, and they make the best choices where they can. Firefighting is not a simple enough matter for a third party to judge.
    You referenced, for example, the three elements needed for fire to be present (heat, fuel, oxygen). Every firefighters know and understands the implications of that not being true, a fire ALSO needs a self sustaining chemical reaction.

    In any case, judging the actions of a professional as an inexperienced third party is shaky ground.

    As far as laziness, I’m regards to property damage; in a home fire, when possible, firefighters will remove valuables from risk areas, place tarps over your furniture and floors, and make every effort to protect you.

    Financially, (and I’m mostly familiar with Canadian statistics) most firefighters by a landslide are volunteer. In my region, in my department, the average POC salary is $25K, a bump to $40K for full time members. Pension is laughable.

    Switching to another point, you asked if we, the readers, has ever seen a fisherman naming themselves a hero. No, I haven’t, but on the same token, I’ve never seen a firefighter do that either. The is a high espirit-du-corps, and we take pride in our work, but never gloat like that.

    The low number of line of duty deaths is something to be proud of. The job is inherently dangerous, extremely so. The low number of deaths, about 100 every year, is the result of training, and respect for the job. It’s not that the job isn’t dangerous, it’s that we are taking precaution possible.

    Near the end you taper off and discuss the differences between and public/private employment. In canada, and I assume the states as well, the government is the biggest employer. It’s not an elitist group. Employee salaries is decided by the populace through elections and reforms.
    Admittedly, I lost interest when you stopped talking about firefighters.

    In any case, the firefighters of today are what you have. We’re here for you regardless of your opinion, and are most definetly not lazy. Whether it’s returning to the scene of a medical emergency to finish cutting the half-finished lawn, or make sure your valuables are locked away in a safe place, we try to lead by example and avoid issues like this.

    Remember our priorities:
    1) Lives of firefighters,
    2) Lives of victims,
    3) Your property.

    I’ve never met a fireman who won’t make every effort to save all three.

    • gerold says:

      Excellent comments, Kevin. That’s a well-considered reply.

      – Gerold

    • goatstaog says:

      Please clarify : ‘ They are trained to a high level in what they do ‘

      Now what ‘high level’ is this contrasted with, are you speaking of ALL participants, or just paid participants?
      How can you apply this across the board, as many communities or persons involved may have different methods or lack of method you are not applying. (human nature – egos – power politic games)

      You are obviously gung ho for the ideal of what a Fire house should stand for, but it sure does not reflect the reality today.

  11. Jay says:

    Wow. Where do I begin? There is so much I can say. It will be a struggle to try and make a valid argument without typing a freaking novel. That would take time that I do not wish to spend here. You repeatedly refer to your “four solid examples”, yet you do not possess the qualifications to deem your observations (examples) as proof of incompetency by firefighters. In order to know what is wrong in a situation, one must first possess the knowledge of what is correct. It may be true that firefighters make mistakes, but anyone in any career can make mistakes. I fail to see how your observations carry any validity to what is incorrect in the fire service. You have no training, understanding, knowledge, or experience in the fire service. Therefore, you sir, are unable to qualify your observations as anything other than a perception. Furthermore, your demeaning of men and women who answer a calling is disappointing. Those men and women are not paid just to provide a service, but for doing what others will not. They spend 1/3 of their lives away from families and are willing to risk their safety for those they do not know. It is not about what they do day to day, but what they are wiling to do when it needs to be done.

    At best, this is an over generalized post in which you seem to degrade those you envy. If you, sir, need more attention, maybe you should try doing something worthwhile with your life other than sitting safely at your keyboard spewing absurd comments on a subject you obviously know nothing about. Your post is not truth, it’s a skewed perception from an unqualified source. No one in life is perfect, neither is any organization, group, association, political party or faction. Firemen will never be perfect and each one is not like the other, the same way no two teachers are alike, thus making every school different from the next. Every fire department is different, each having it’s own standard operating procedures and guidelines. Every geographical location has it’s own collection of hazards, complexities, obstacles, and conditions to overcome, There are no two fires that are equal, never the same as another. Fires are not the only enemy faced by these men and women, but car collisions, overturned tankers, electrical wires, persons trapped in various locations, drownings, water rescues and so many more. There are just as many hours, if not more, spent learning, training, and certifying in order to obtain the necessary skills to perform their duties. It requires a level of intelligence to learn understand the complex techniques and skills of their trade. Firemen are far from unintelligent. Some of them have degrees prior to service, but many of them obtain theirs while serving, and often is required for promotion.

    As far as laziness goes, I would like to think any person who is willing to be unnaturally awakened from their sleep, jump out of bed, rush to get dressed and geared up, and respond to calls for assistance of varying types for people they no nothing about, is not your typical lazy person. What most don’t understand is that the downtime experienced by firefighters is needed and welcomed, because one ever knows what the day or night will hold. It provides time to prepare, focus, relax, and yes even sleep. It is what makes it possible for them to continue doing what they do. They are many times when they are working on very minimal sleep and rest, making a dangerous job just that much more dangerous. What many also do not know is that firefighters spend a large part of the day performing code enforcement, hydrant inspections and testing, pre-planning surveys, and identifying and marking hazardous buildings. Those tasks alone are enough to fill a normal 8 hour day, and depending on the call volume of the assigned station, you can add hours of response time to that.

    As I stated when I first began this post, there is waaaaay too much commentary I can type here. I know I am wasting my time entertaining folks who think the way you do, and do not wish to go further in my reply. You have the right and freedom to speak, write, and post that which you choose from the safety of your happy place while those men and women, come hell or high water, will continue to do that which you can only dream of doing. I respect your courage to post such garbage, but am disappointed in the fact that you felt the necessity to do so. It is a dishonor for you to generalize firefighters as idiots and lazy because of your unqualified opinions. Because you observed what you feel to be idiocy,and felt the need to insult an entire class of individuals based on that observation, you appear not to possess the common sense you felt the need ensure readers you have.

    In closing, this post is useless and absurd in my opinion, because it lacks factual data from a trustworthy individual whose opinion is qualified by knowledge and experience in the specified field of work. You can not comment on what is incorrect or improperly done by firefighters during an actual working incident, unless you possess the knowledge and experience it takes to do so. I assume by your commentary you do not. I’m sorry, but your “jack-of-all-trades” title does not qualify you as a “know-it-all”, yet you speak as if you are. If I had the time to waste, and thought it would matter, I would continue this post with a thorough explanation of my opinion on what kind of person I believe you to be, since unqualified, best guess, generalizations of others is so widely excepted on the internet.

    • gerold says:


      If you actually bothered to read the article to the end, you’d know that comments are now closed unless you have something to contribute that has not already been addressed in the numerous comments below. Everything you say in your highly-opinionated reply has already been covered one way or another.

      However, since you took the time to write a length reply and since you avoided obscenities (you oughta see the ones I deleted!) I’m going to waste my time and administer the spanking you rightly deserve.

      You say, “In order to know what is wrong in a situation, one must first possess the knowledge of what is correct.” I call bullshit on that. You don’t need to be a doctor to realize a surgeon amputated the wrong limb nor do you need to be mechanic to realize you’ve been charged an arm and a leg without the problem being fixed. Ever hear of common sense? Apparently that qualifies as rocket science in your world.

      For what it’s worth, one of my many qualifications is 6 Sigma black belt. That makes me a “process freak” that enables me to easily identify grossly incompetent procedures by their results, or in the case of fire-fighting, their shoddy or lack of results. It’s not rocket science.

      Furthermore, you’ve just proven the point that fire fighters are so full of themselves that they believe no one else can criticize what they do. That’s called hubris and overweening pride. One reader commented (if you bothered to read the comments) that fire fighter’s heads are so big it’s a wonder they fit through doors.

      You say that since I lack firefighting expertise I am, “unable to qualify your observations as anything other than a perception.” Ok, then I challenge you and any other fireman to explain the following two observations.

      a) How does directing a stream of water over a burning building, through the smoke and dousing the street on the other side help extinguish the burning building? Let’s make this simple so even idiot firefighters can understand; how do you ‘put out’ the smoke without first extinguishing the fire?

      b) How does pouring water onto a sloped roof that’s NOT on fire extinguish a blaze inside a large municipal garage whose doors are wide open revealing the entire interior ablaze and not one single fire hose directed inside?

      I await your explanations.

      You say fire fighters, “spend 1/3 of their lives away from families.” Oh, the poor babies! That’s reason enough for awards and parades. Do you honestly think they’re the only occupation away from their families. So do armed forces personnel, so do loggers in logging camps, so do fisherman at sea for weeks, so do long haul truck drivers, so do miners working 12 hour days, two weeks in and two weeks out as well as numerous other occupations. However, they aren’t self-deluded into believing they’re heroes nor do they give each other awards for doing a safe job. Yes, firefighting is SAFE. Read the statistics in the article that prove the other occupations I mentioned above are far more dangerous.

      You say, “you seem to degrade those you envy.” This is not the first idiot comment assuming I’m distraught at not becoming a fireman. There’s that overweening pride and hubris again. With an ego like yours, you could qualify to be a fire fighter if you aren’t already one. Why would I want half my brain removed to become an idiot fireman?

      Also, if you’d bothered to read some of the other comments the article suggested you do before replying, you’d realize at least two things:

      1) my beef is with idiot firefighters extinguishing fires (or failing to do so) and not EMS, rescue, ambulance crews, etc. nor what you mention, “performing code enforcement, hydrant inspections and testing, pre-planning surveys, and identifying and marking hazardous buildings.”

      2) my beef is with fire CHIEFS (where the buck stops) and not the “Indians” who simply do what they’re told.

      You say, “Firemen are far from unintelligent. Some of them have degrees…” Then why are the majority of firemen who leave comments unable to read and have such pathetic comprehension skills? Only two comments from fire fighters indicate a modicum of education. It says much about dumbed-down Amerikan education.

      You also mention the, “many times when they are working on very minimal sleep and rest, making a dangerous job just that much more dangerous.” I call bullshit on that too. If you actually read and understood the article and the statistics I cite, fire-fighting is about as dangerous an occupation as a store clerk. And, don’t bother responding that firemen die shortly after retirement. That was exposed as a hoax in the comments also.

      You suggest that I “…should try doing something worthwhile with your life other than sitting safely at your keyboard.” What a moronic comment! This isn’t the first time some idiot assumes I’m a punk living in my Mom’s basement fat-fingering a keyboard all day.

      I don’t earn my living blogging. You have no clue how I earn my living or what my specialty is. Nor does it matter. The statistics I cite and my personal observations are what matters. And, other than pathetic belly-aching, obscenities (deleted), name-calling, jumping to conclusions and numerous logical fallacies from dumbed-down firemen, no has yet proven me wrong.

      I’m still waiting.


  12. bioman says:

    Your six sigma. Cool then you must know how to detect whats useless. I’ve been in EMS for over 6 yrs and have seen these firemen work. Almost every call the go on is a medical or trauma call where they are first responding and helping EMS. Then they go back to the station and chill. They do almost nothing all day and like the previous comments say “they are complainers” and is entirely true. New construction material has prevented fires from ever happening so there job is diminishing faster and faster. Firefighting is not a stressful job unless you find yourself in a burning building which is about to collapse. But even then that was a bad decision on the IC to tell there men to make an interior attack when clearly it is not safe and most firemen take pride in risking there lives to go in burning buildings. EMS and Fire have had to join forces b/c lack thereof money for equipment. Fire equipment is seldom used where IV’s, fluid, medications, ET tubes are used every single day. If any small gov’t makes in investment is should be for EMS and NOT fire.
    Nepotism- yes its there
    Hazing- yes its there
    Laziness- yes its there
    All in the Firehouse. Not many (but a know of maybe one) actually takes advantage of the down time and is studying for a Bachelor’s degree.
    Paid firefighters have to be an EMT at a minimum and as time progresses the saying has become “EMS is the new Fire” which all comes from firefighters that were smart enough to see the future and become a Paramedic. These firefighters need to look in the future and see that EMS is the business to be in. If you complain about pay 34K a year then find another job.

    • gerold says:

      Excellent perspective, bioman!

      In our community, they’re combining EMS with fire fighters in fire halls. It not only saves money, it combines functions and by spreading ambulances out it makes for faster response times.

      It took the government long enough to figure this out, but it’s progress one small step at a time.

      – Gerold

      • bioman says:

        Don’t forget firefighters will tell you all about there horror stories of what they have seen. Keep in mind that it’s EMS who deals w/ the dying and more of the stress of trying to save someone. Not the firefighters.

        • Bill B says:

          Damn, I can’t believe I didn’t read this little bullshit comment before. So, firefighters don’t deal with death and stress? Stress like “I kicked in a door and found a friend/Co worker shot himself in the head”? Stress like that? Or did you mean stress like doing cpr on a 5 year old we just pulled out of a burning house? I’ve got a ton of EMS and fire stories that are pretty wretched. In my city (like so many others) not only are the firefighters EMT’s as first responders, we’re also regularly assigned to operate BLS medic units. Your whole comment stinks of “I couldn’t pass the fire exam. So, now I’m a bitter EMT.” But, it’s also wrong. Let me know if you wanna go tit for tat on stress levels. I’m used to operating (driving some nights, doc’ing the others) a medic unit that can routinely handle 20+ emergency calls/transports in one SHIFT. Not “one day”. One shift. So much for you blowing yourself, right?

  13. poop says:

    Blame the people the firefighters work for.Firefighters are just doing their job.#9/11

  14. You have the intellect of a 2 year old kid. What do you contribute to society other than sit on your ass writing an article degrading firefighters? Are you saying that loggers and fishermen should have a parade? You come across thinking you’re intelligent. But to me, you’re just another person that’s not grateful for the service firefighters provide. Just remember when you need the fire department to come get you out of your car because you were involved in a car accident or you’re stuck in your house that fire, remember that it’s the firefighters that will save your sorry ass. So think before you speak or jolt down your so called opinion by belittling firefighters. Just saying.

    • gerold says:

      What I contribute to society is exposing bullshit. I never suggested that loggers and fishermen have parades, but I advocate fire fighters should stop having them and stop awarding each other for doing a job that statistics prove is NOT dangerous.

      Let me guess based on your infantile name-calling you’re a Dumberican fire fighter with poor reading skills and brainwashed patriotism. In the first place I never said anything negative about EMT, rescue, ambulances, etc. just idiotic fire fighters as exemplified by my four, first-hand observations which you did NOT refute.

      In the second place, you haven’t added anything to the conversation that hasn’t already been said if you’d bother to read a few of the other reader’s comments.

      In the third place, if my house catches on fire I’ll order and enjoy a pizza and let the sucker burn because the amount of water damage you guys do will destroy whatever the fire doesn’t until fire departments drag themselves into the 21st century and stop using outdated technology.

      In future, might I suggest you count to ten and cool your jets before commenting and making another ass of yourself.

      – Gerold

      • I don’t want to “cool my jets before commenting” on a baseless opinion of yours. So firefighting isn’t dangerous? Brainwashed patriotism? Name-calling? But yet you generalize and call firefighters idiots. The title of YOUR article says “Firemen are idiots, not heroes. And you expect me to take in your opinion about this? Nope, not going to happen. I know that everything that’s being said by me is correct. This political correctness that you present through a baseless, useless and lying Red Herring and Straw Man fallacy is pretty much shows your true colors. Like I said, firefighters will be the ones to save your sorry ass. I won’t go as far to demand that you should respect firefighters where it’s due. But in my opinion, those that serves, protects and saves lives should be respected.

    • willie wilkens says:

      I have been in city government for over 30 years and it is common belief that firefighters are lazy self serving complainers. The problem is they are a necessary evil. And yes, if my sorry ass is stuck in a fire I do expect the firefighters to get me out, that’s their freakin job for Pete’s sake. Just saying.

      • gerold says:

        Thank you, Willie. That’s the most level-headed comment I’ve seen in a long time.

        Everything I wrote still stands, though.

        – Gerold

  15. tom says:

    I read your blog, and was very disappointed.
    I think there are too many “internet experts” who say whatever ignorant thing they feel like.
    I have been a volunteer firefighter for 13 years now, I receive $125 at Christmas, the same as the other 39 firefighters on my department.
    I have an EMT license, hazmat certifications, and various other specialty training, I also have a full time job and a wife and three kids.
    Over the years I have put out fires, recovered bodies, taught kids fire safety, cut people out of cars, secured power lines, the list goes on.
    My department trains regularly on top of calls.(last year we ran 534 total calls)
    We are never in a hurry to get back to fire station to scratch ourselves, I go back home at 3am and try to get back asleep before work.
    After reading your blog and some of the responses it makes me wonder why I am getting out of bed in the middle of the night in the winter to go assist someone in need, spending my own money on gas. Maybe I am an idiot?
    By the way I do not think I am a hero, but I think my daughters think I am

    • gerold says:


      You say that in addition to putting out fires you, “recovered bodies, taught kids fire safety, cut people out of cars, secured power lines, the list goes on.” Believe me; we ARE all thankful for your training and rescue efforts.

      However, as I’ve stated numerous times in replies to comments my beef is NOT with rescue crews, EMT, ambulances, etc. It’s with fire fighters and as I stated in the article, more specifically, with idiot fire chiefs. The buck stops with the chief, not the Indians.

      Having said that, the statistics I cite and my four, first-hand observations still stand. Despite numerous comments of infantile name calling, no one has yet refuted them.

      BTW – the first and fourth examples I observed were volunteer fire fighters. Make of that what you will.

      Also, BTW – the more emotional and angry one’s response, the more I know I’ve struck a guilty raw nerve and punctured a sacred cow. When people point their fingers, they have three fingers pointing back at themselves. I’m not referring to you, but many previous comments.


  16. Michael says:

    Firefighters are not hero’s? It’s like critiquing the church in 1672.

    People look at you like you’re committing blasphemy or something. But it’s true. Firefighters are idiots. They are not Hero’s. In my town they get 6 figure salaries for sitting in a Club Med Firehouse the city of New Smyrna Beach, FL spent something like 30 million dollars on building and renovating a Firehouse to justify having an bloated budget. There is a fire in New Smyrna Beach maybe once a year. They are unionized. Work 3 days a week. Sitting around the firehouse doing JACK SHIT.

    These people are seen as real men? Are you fucking kidding me? Yes most are in great shape because THEY HAVE THE TIME TO WORK OUT ALL DAY SITTING AROUND THE DAMN FIREHOUSE !

    These people are NOT hero’s they are lazy ass leaches on society using there media image to make big $$$$$$ at taxpayer expense. Most Firefighters have average IQ’s and have not been to college. Everyone wants to be a Firefighter (gee I wonder why?) but they have closed the door to the point you have have nepotism or know someone or transfer to get in.

    I mean come on! How often does the average Firefighter see a blaze like 911? NEVER. Yet 911 was used to make Firefighters the poster boys for Hero’s everywhere. Doesn’t matter what you do because if your a Firefighter your a hero (what does that overused word even mean anymore?).

    And they make the ladies SWOON. Big hunky firefighting hero’s with 6 figure incomes. Don’t forget taxpayer paid health, medical, dental, 401k. and pension FOR LIFE.

    All for sitting around the Firehouse 3 days a week pumping weights playing video games or cards all day or doing mock drills when you get a call the Mayor is stopping by. This country is BANKRUPT and this grossly overpaid government (yes city and county is still government) workers are bleeding productive citizens tax dollars dry.

    AND they have a union. How dare these leeches demand more pay! They don’t have anymore of a dangerous job than anyone else. Just look at the statistics!

    I’ve been saying this for years.

    Yet people are so gullible they will believe ANYTHING the media brainwashes them into believing especially when it’s common sense that fires are dangerous.

    Another big pension and salary raise for our 3 day work week Firefighters. They are HERO’S ! !

    • gerold says:

      Guy I know applied and tried for years to become a fire fighter but he was never accepted. Became a cop instead.

      Not sure if there’s a message there or not … but I like your comment.

      – Gerold

  17. John says:

    I am not sure what a self-proclaimed economist is doing posting about something he clearly has never experienced first hand. Behind your keyboard in your cozy room, I highly doubt that you have ever experienced the death of a child, a person burned to death, or a 19 year old shot in the neck who bled out. Perhaps you believe firefighters are “idiots” because they make mistakes. I’m sure you will agree that even those in the financial service industry make mistakes as well. Need I not remind you of the stock market crash in September of 2008? While the packaging of subprime loans damaged our country beyond belief, I still fail to find a firefighter who had the gall to post about the inadequacy of those in the financial services industry on his personal blog. For someone who claims to be a professional, it would be my hope that you would at least attempt to obtain some firsthand experience in something prior to criticizing it. I strongly encourage you to at least do a ride along at a busy station nearby before you decide who the real idiot it. As a person who worked in the financial services industry who is now a firefighter…I consider my opinion to be reputable.

    • gerold says:

      John, it’s not just the idiocy of fire fighters I write about although my beef is with the Chief’s not the ‘Indians’ who are simply doing what they’re told.

      If you read some of my financial posts in the “Collapse” series you’ll see that fire fighters do NOT have a monopoly on idiocy. Keynesian economists, central bankers, politicians, government bureaucrats and unions display far greater incompetence than fire fighters. I don’t let them off the hook either.

      I don’t need to be a fire fighter to understand common sense. For you to argue otherwise is a reverse “Straw Man” fallacy. My article stands on the basis of common sense, personal observation and reliable statistics.

      BTW – I never claimed to be an economist. Although I have a bit of financial experience I am a jack-of-all-trades with an ability to connect many disparate dots and a refusal to accept stupidity lying down. As Robert Heinlein once said, “A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly … Specialization is for insects.”

      – Gerold

  18. jack says:

    Firefighters will always exist and so will the people who love them. The way Firefighters are is the way they have been since the beginning of time in all countries across the globe. Trying to change them is like trying to change the color of the sky. If your career is in stocks and bonds and real estate, then talk about financial spreadsheets, market trends, and stock market instead. Because that’s your life that you made for yourself. Live with that. There are also a lot of firefighters that used to be accountants, real estate salesmen, and financial planners. So, you are also insulting your own “brothers” so to speak. Firefighting is my dream. I will fight for that. I will talk about that because that is my dream and my life. Because living a dream is the only way. You can never make people happy, no matter how nice, considerate, how perfect, how smart you are. They will always complain and always compare you to someone better. Live your dreams and stop being a person who sits on the sidelines.

  19. jack says:

    I started late as a firefighter, but even as a non-firefighter, I never resorted to calling Firefighters idiots because I knew firefighters did crucial things for society. Everyone knows that. The only people who talked bad about firefighters were guilty about doing shady things themselves. Now, as a firefighter, the only people I see doing that are the more experienced firefighters who talk about rookies. But they don’t remember a time when they were rookies and made the same mistakes. How funny? Except now, fires are much more sneakier now then they were in the past so how much more dangerous is it to be a rookie now then it was in the past?

    • Tony says:

      I’m starting at a dept and I feel this same way. I consider myself pretty tough and love some good ball busting and people giving shit. It’s funny and real, and forms bonds in good fun… However there seem to be certain, more senior people nowadays who use their position to disrespect and treat new guys like shit… because they are new. Being new at a firehouse is shitty and awkward as it is and the job is stressful enough without people making you feel worthless and discouraged. Very unfortunate and can’t wait until my “new guy” era is over. Supposed to be an exciting time full of learning, what a shame.

      As for People claiming it to be a “safe” job, due to casualty statistics, maybe it’s because we go through extensive training before we even perform on a fireground. Constant, continuing training is why our numbers are good… not from a lack of danger.

  20. Nancy says:

    I enjoyed reading your blog. I have always thought many firemen were not the brightest. And yet so many people trust firemen with their lives, when too many of them are not qualified or intelligent enough to be in that position. Too many mistakes are made and will continue to be made when unions are in in charge. Unions represent laziness, incompetence and a complete lack of judgment. I live in Canada and the amount of money firefighters earn in Ontario because of unions is disgusting. Their salaries are garnered on the backs of hardworking taxpayers, who actually work more than full time with no perks, benefits and minimum vacation time, to support their families. These hardworking citizens do not get to hang out in a firehall at leisure for most of the day.

    I live beside a firemen, who is a complete idiot. He refers to Pakistanis as “towel heads” and “Pakis”. He recently illegally sprayed, meaning “drowned”, his front yard with highly concentrated pesticides in the middle of the night thinking no one would notice. Pesticides for cosmetic purposes are banned in Ontario. The neighbours were choking on the smell the next morning. I have small children who play there. He programmes his sprinkler system to water his lawn every morning at 2:00 a.m. even during water bans.

    He has threatened to trap the stray neighbourhood cats. He jumped his back fence and chopped down the neighbours raspberry bushes because they were growing through his fence. Last winter after the ice storm, he pelted my children in the head with ice chunks after trying to “plow” his driveway. He had the snowplow on high and the output shoot aimed towards where my children were playing. Also during this ice storm, the worst our area has ever seen, he sat on his fat union ass and did nothing to help, while many, many people volunteered their time and gave up their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to assist the thousands who were without power in minus 30 degree celcius weather. Oh, and he wants another neighbour to cut down his 50 foot mature, majestic pine trees because they are dropping needles and “ruining” his grass. Class A idiot.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • gerold says:

      You’ve just summed up the mentality of the stupidest creatures on earth – unions, and the type who slither under their protection. Don’t get me started …

      – Gerold

      • Fayefaraday says:

        The only thing false about this comment is that unions aren’t necessarily stupid. They’re extremely well versed on the topic of laziness. 😉

    • jack says:

      Maybe your paying so much attention to him because you like him. There’s a thin line between love and hate.

      • Liz says:

        Ah….Jack the firefighter who has just proven three facts about many firefighters. One: illiteracy. “Your” is actually “you are” or “you’re”. Two: Over-inflated sense of self (EGO). Yes…she must just be swooning over her neighbor firefighter because what else could it be?!! Three: stupidity. There has never been a thin line between love and hate.

    • goatstaog says:

      Another Ontario comment ! It’s like I live in the land of the self righteous idiots here in Ontario. I too know people who douse their lawns with these toxic brews like they have a hard on doing it. Let a few dandelions grow. The focus here, always in the wrong places for the sake of facade maintenance. This is why I believe in a part of this conducted idiocy going on with the Firehouses and crew, deliberately taking out buildings for a turnover effect as renewal for ‘progress’ . I wonder if the world’s longest burning lightbulb in that firehouse somewhere in the states is still going.

      • gerold says:

        Indeed, I’ve often wondered how much ‘urban renewal’ is involved, but that smacks of conspiracy and given an option between conspiracy or incompetence it’s usually stupidity that wins.


  21. Honza says:

    Hello Gerold.
    I have to tahnk you really. Finally somebody I can agree with about Firemen. I really hate this hero myth about them. For example I am social worker and my clients are former criminals (mostly junkies, murders and thiefs) so there is possibility they can be very dangerous. Yet I dont see why I should be called hero or get well paid for that. A lot of girls I know are in love with firemen but for what? Because they look good in uniform and know how to talk big about themselfes? I hate this. I appreciate their work when they are needed to but we should not glorifie them to the point they are make out to be superheroes. Why doctors dont take the same credit for what they do? Because white coat and great knowledge of medicine is not cool enough?

    • jack says:

      Nobody said doctors aren’t getting credit. That’s what you think. Doctors are looked up to by everyone including firefighters. If they had to be classified by mythology, they would be called healers rather than heroes, but neither is greater then the other. They both have a function to serve in society. All aspects of society can be classified by where they fit in mythology, not all have to be heroes, some can be gods or goddesses, magicians, oracles, healers, traders, etc. But those are all based on stereotypes and myths. that is a classification that started centuries before we were all born. Firefighters do not claim to be heroes.

  22. AC says:

    I disagree with almost all of this article, but I’ll just address the part which I believe stands out the most.
    Not ALL firefighters have a large ego. Yes some do, but I seriously doubt there is a single profession in which every employee is quiet and modest. There are self-absorbed bankers, self-absorbed fishermen, and, yes, self-absorbed firefighters.

    I know a few firefighters, and while one of them, I admit, is pompous, there is equally another who keeps to herself.
    Last year, a male firefighter who had been dealing with depression for some years committed suicide, leaving behind his sister and parents. I wouldn’t say he had an ego, and neither do the other hundreds like him.
    And while I live in England, I’m quite sure this extends to other countries as well. I feel it’s very unfair that you would make such a sweeping generalisation about a group of people that are all different, despite having the same job.

    • gerold says:

      I don’t understand your problem. The article consists of personal observations and reliable statistics. So, when you say you “disagree with almost all of this article” you’re really saying you don’t like it. Too bad. So sad. I was upset when I discovered there’s no Santa Clause, but I got over it.

      Perhaps you could provide some contrary evidence? That would give me something to go on.

      Also, I don’t remember writing anything about their egos so I did a word check and came up empty. However, a few of the readers commented on firefighters egos so you may want to take that up with them.

      If that’s all you can come up with, I’m afraid you excited a lot of electrons unnecessarily.

      – Gerold

  23. stflorian says:

    would love to meet you gerold. you sound like someone who “gets it” . shoot me an email when you can.

  24. Medic 3 says:

    I agree with your artical about the hero complex but this part “most of them are idiots and overpaid government bureaucrats” is not true. Seventy percent of the nations firefighter are volunteers. I am a paramedic and I agree firefighters do have a large ego. While I do not unappreciated their positions, I don’t think having 1000 t-shits that say your a firefighter makes you a special “hero” either. At least where I am from the career firefighter have to do much more than just respond to fires. They must be trained to the EMT-B level and provide emergency medical care prior to the ambulances arrival. They are also beneficial on cardiac arrest because it is difficult for one person on the ambulance to do chest compression, ventilate, defibulate, and push cardiac medications. Also they do respond to MVA’s to provide extrication and extra personnel to take care of patients. They have to maintain and paint all the fire hydrants within their jurisdiction. They must also do community education and fire prevention. The average pay in my area for a firefighter is around $28,000- 32,000 a year. Almost every firefighter I know works at least 1 other job. You have pointed out 4 good scenarios that represent great incompetency, but I can give you hundreds of scenarios where doctors, nurses ,and other professionals that make double to triple the salary of a firefighter have shown great incompetency. For example, nurse practitioner gives a pulmonary edema patient 2 L fluid bolus. LPN calls 911 at skilled nursing facility for patient, “not breathing right.” On our arrival PT was in full rigor mortis. Doctor does not recognize that patient is in respiratory failure and needs a ET tube. . Nurse places pt on nonrebreather at 2 lpm (needs to be at least 10 lpm to keep from suffocating the pt). NP gives pt nitro without checking vitals, bottoms pt pressure. I can go on.

  25. Edward Bergen says:

    Interesting article. I have a few thoughts about what you wrote. If what you say you witnessed is true then you saw gross incompetence. There’s no two ways about it. You accurately described what the proper procedures would have been. I find it curious you were there to witness these fires. My guess is that you have a scanner that you listen to regularly and respond to these fires as if you were a fireman. Putting water on fire is the most cost effective method for extinguishing fires and as long as that’s true it will remain the go – to method. Has nothing to do with going back in service or getting back to the firehouse. This NPR graph does not take into account cancer related deaths. So they are skewed. It is well documented that firefighters die of cancer at many times the national average. Putting out fires is not the only thing firemen do. They cut people out of crashed cars, secure gas leaks and ventilate buildings, perform cpr . They monitor and mitigate hazmat emergencies as well as perform technical rescues, such as window washers hanging off scaffolds 27 stories in the air and workers caught in collapsing trenches. Next time you are listening to your scanner turn out for something other than a fire. Perhaps fisherman and farmers are not viewed as heros because they are risking their lives and putting themselves in danger for more profit. Whereas a firefighter gets the same check no matter how deep into a burning building he goes when there are reports of people trapped. Your average person does even realize how most of the appliances in their house work. They can not secure gas lines to their ovens and boilers, they can’t isolate and secure water leaks. And the they sure as shit aren’t going to put out their own fires or free themselves from a stuck elevator. You are in the trades, you have a scanner, you critique firefighters on the job, my guess is your childhood dream was to be a fireman but for whatever reason it didn’t work out. Sorry your dreams were crushed.. And yes I’m a fireman.

    • gerold says:

      You say that the incidents I described are examples of gross incompetence. However, that’s about the only part of your comment I agree with.

      No, I do not have a scanner nor do I chase fires. I’m simply one of those small-town fools that rush towards a disaster to render assistance while most other people are running away. Once the authorities arrive, I disappear back into the woodwork.

      I’ve said it in numerous comments, but I’ll say it again. My beef is with firemen (‘fire fighters’) and the idiocy of the fire chiefs illustrated by the examples I cite. My beef is NOT with other emergency responders. Re-read the article for verification.

      You say ‘This NPR graph does not take into account cancer related deaths. So they are skewed. It is well documented that firefighters die of cancer at many times the national average.’

      I hate to rain on your parade, but the NPR data is strictly for on-the-job deaths. A little further on I quote Steven Greenhut: “police are the longest-living public employee category followed closely by firefighters. They live well into their 80s, enjoying those millionaires’ pensions that their unions have secured for them.” So, whatever documentation about cancer you refer to is myth and your cancer argument is groundless.

      No, I never wanted to be a fire fighter so please stick with your day job and leave the armchair psychoanalysis to those psych idiots.

      – Gerold

      • Edward Bergen says:

        Actually in your essay you cite examples of incompetence that you personally witnessed then go on to make blanket statements about firemen and the fire service as a whole. Are you really trying to say that this article is ONLY about the few firemen and bosses in the examples you gave? If so I encourage you to reread your own essay because that is not what you wrote. I understand your npr graph only references on- the- job fatalities however as stated in this link,, firefighters die of cancer from carcinogens they come in contact with ON THE JOB. So with all due respect to Steven Greenhut ( who obviously isnt biased against unions, obviously) I’m sorry to rain on your parade with facts. So if you dont have a scanner then how do you know about these disasters? Do you chase the sirens you hear rushing by you? If you dont have a scanner as you claim there is literally no other way you would arrive in time. So you want to help at diasters, you literally chase fire trucks to the scene of fires then you “disapear back into the woodwork” only after you have witnessed enough incompetence and decided how you could have done the job better. And you’re telling me you never wanted to be a fireman…… RIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHTTTT

        • gerold says:

          Let me explain the facts of life.

          a) The examples range over a forty year period. Conclusion: stupidity is timeless.

          b) Firefighters’ reading comprehension is underwhelming. I ALREADY said I’ve never used a scanner nor chase fire trucks so why do you keep harping on it? Is it so hard to believe people actually arrive at the scene before you guys arrive? Haven’t you noticed all the people already at the scene when you finally get there?

          c) Being raised in a small, remote northern town we are taught to render assistance BEFORE the so-called ‘authorities’ arrive, if they ever do. Another motorist’s pick-up engine catches fire on a remote winter highway at -40 with help hours away, we are told to, “help because next time it could be you.”

          Neighbor’s car catches fire, use a fire extinguisher to put it out before ‘help’ comes, then leave before you guys arrive. What’s your problem with that? You think firefighters are so high and mighty that the rest of the world is so incompetent it can’t wipe its own butt? I remember another reader’s comment about heads so wide it’s surprising they fit through doorways. I see what he means.

          If you live long enough and nothing else kills you then cancer likely will and if it’s not one type of cancer it will be another. The facts remain: firefighters have a low on-the-job death rate and live to a ripe old age until cancer finally gets them.

          Now, do yourself a favor and read through this again because I hate repeating myself. Unless you have something of substance to contribute, I’ve closed this post to comments long ago.

          – Gerold

          • So one of the many hidden facts you chose to not share in your article is that the 4 events were over a 40 year span of time. That little factoid changes the whole complexion of your article and had it been included, would have tainted your whole premise. So you understand, a hero is not defined by the occupational dangers measured by the number of “your time is up” people that die performing that nature or that type of work. It’s the actions and deeds without regard to ones own safety to save someone from a life threatening event. Hero’s are also found on battlefields but you have no statistics on what their death rates are… (food for thought Gerald). So I find your whole premise baseless for using facts and claiming because the number of deaths correlation for the employment classification (which is painted with a rather broad brush and not narrowly defined) is what you believe makes one a hero. The safer the occupation, the more of an idiot you are is what I conclude your boasting here. You stated that you respond to emergencies to do something before the authorities arrive. That kind of humanity puts you in the ballpark as being a hero and you would earn some respect from me. But your retorts to comments, your condescending attitude and snide remarks complete erase that from my mind. I see you sitting back patting yourself on the back and admiring the words you post (I sure showed them), giving yourself self praise, to stroke your ego and the little hard on you get hiding behind your keyboard just to prove your ignorance based opinion is laughable. To suppress telling your story for 40 years proves you’re a deprived individual or that your a very slow proof reader.

  26. medic1413 says:

    I remember working as a medic and getting a call for a seizure patient. The engine company got there first. As me and my partner were walking up the stairs we met the engine company on the way down. The supervisor say to me ” yeah, it was a seizure patient. He’s post-coitus right now”.
    I answered “The patient is post coitus?”. He answers “yeah, he had a seizure and he’s post coitus”. I answer ” Post coitus is the cigarette you have after laying down with your wife. The patient is postictal”. He answers “Hey, what the f*ck do I know. I’m a fireman”. 15 years later and I still laugh out loud when I retell this story.

  27. Haley says:

    From the bit i read, it sounds like these men and women were ill trained and poorly prepared for various situations. I will not argue that all firefighters are heroic and deserve respect however, being a fire woman myself, I know some of us have a strong head on our shoulders. I believe the fact that these idividuals knew they were getting paid, they threw caution to the wind, along side their training and the saftey of others.

  28. James says:

    Firefighters are emergency service providers. The majority of fire departments require their firefighters to become advance life support providers, called paramedics. We are expected to perform tasks in the field that only doctors are allowed to do in the E.R. and we get paid a tenth of what they do in a year. Firefighters do it all and don’t ask to be called hero’s and actually most cringe when being called that. And that wasn’t a tantrum bud. If that’s how you react for being called out, then I would love to see how you would react to a real confrontation (not in blog world) The reason why you resent firefighters is because it takes an alpha personality to be one. You don’t have what it takes and never will. Your envy couldn’t be more obvious . We’ll still take care of your ungrateful ass when it comes down to it though. We do it bc we love the job and everyone deserves the same care. Even you buddy. Have a nice day.

    • gerold says:

      James, if you’re a fire fighter your lack of reading comprehension proves my point that fire fighters are idiots.

      As I’ve stated in previous comments my rant is NOT against the emergency service providers.
      It is against fire fighters:
      a) questionable leadership
      b) ass media making mountains out of molehills.

      You keep illustrating the Straw Man fallacy. What you say may be true but beside the point as it’s outside the focus of my article. James, read real slowly: IT’S BESIDE THE POINT. Stop waving the flag!

      You’re a delusional blowhard pretending to be an armchair shrink analyzing my motives as based on resentment in not being some Hollywood version of a fire fighter.

      James, go back to watching the crap on TV. This blog’s outa your depth.

      – Gerold

      • Gerald, what you’re not grasping is that “firefighters” throughout the U.S. are emergency service providers and most are dual and multipurpose role providers. Firefighters are medics and cross trained in rescue and hazardous materials, all of which are job requirements to be a certified firefighter. A firefighter does all these and more in most places. You used a broad brush using the terms Firemen and Fire Fighter to an audience that are all of the above with that job title. Chief’s are firefighters. Everyone certified in the fire service are firefighters regardless of rank.

  29. James says:

    Gerold, may I ask what your overall contribution to society is? For a person who seems to enjoy proving how intelligent you are, much of your perspective is glaring with ignorance. First of all, ask any firefighter if they believe they are a hero and they will tell you no. Firefighters do not choose the profession to walk around pounding their chest about how heroic they are. They do it for a variety of reasons. Some do it because they truly want to help people, some do it for the thrill and uncertainty of never knowing what you will be faced with when you show up for work. The fire service has evolved into something far greater then just fire fighting operations. Think of this for a second. God forbid, if one of your loved ones was faced with an emergency, who would YOU call for? Maybe you father, mother, or wife goes into cardiac arrest from a heart attack. Or even worse a child drowns and is completely unresponsive. Who do you think comes to give everything they have to resuscitate your loved ones? Who do you think comes to cut you out when you’re car flips over on the interstate and your completely trapped and unable to move while you’re bleeding out or aspirating? The point is, today’s firefighters are more educated and definitely more useful to society then cynical bloggers like yourself will ever be. Believe it or not firefighters have bachelors and masters degrees. They’re trauma nurses and instructors on their days off. They work more hours then you’ll ever believe and it’s all to be able to support their family. You act as if they earn too much money. You’re just an envious coward who sits behind a computer screen inflating your own ego. No firefighter wants to be a hero because that usually means either they’re dead or one of their brothers or sisters are. Pull your head out of your pompous rear end and walk in someone else’s shoes.

    • gerold says:

      Whoa! Cool your jets, James.

      In case you missed it, my rant is NOT against the emergency service providers. It is against:
      a) questionable leadership
      b) ass media making mountains out of molehills.

      You illustrate the Straw Man fallacy. What you say may be true but beside the point as it’s outside the focus of my article. Since you fail to provide any contrary evidence, I rest my case as previously stated. Your name-calling temper tantrum is a case in point that you don’t have a leg to stand on.

      Also, if my intelligence bothers you; that’s your problem, not mine.

      – Gerold

  30. JB says:

    I’m not going to respond with an insulting or angry post. While I find your comments offensive to my profession of 24 years, I don’t think that insulting or demeaning comments are very productive.

    The examples you use to illustrate your point that “firemen are idiots” show your lack of knowledge and ignorance of firefighting tactics and science. I don’t mean that in an insulting manner. Firefighting is a complicated profession (whether you are paid or volunteer) that is demanding of both the mind and body. It’s not necessarily rocket science, but the trick is being able to do it under pressure. That is something that not everyone can do. It is also far more complicated than most people think. It’s much more than just putting water on fire. Fire behavior, chemistry, ventilation, building construction, reading the smoke and condition of the building, etc. are just some of the many things that have to be considered at any fire.

    Does it make me special? No. I don’t think accountants have to perform in the type of environment that I do, but I couldn’t do what they do. Everyone has talents and something that they are good at. My profession is fire and emergency work. I am a firefighter, company officer, paramedic, hazmat technician, investigator, and several others certifications that are all part of my daily job responsibilities. We wear many hats in the fire service, and we have to be good at all of them.

    Let’s discuss some of your concerns and examples you cited to prove that fireman are “idiots”.

    First of all, without being there and seeing the entire scene, it’s hard to fully understand what it is you are describing. I can tell you that fire scenes can be confusing and chaotic, and not knowing the whole story or seeing the entire picture can lead to some erroneous conclusions. You might see one side of an incident, or a crew doing something that you don’t understand, and draw the wrong conclusion based on faulty knowledge or lack of the understanding.

    The comment you made about the proper way to deal with a flashover is incorrect. Making a small hole and introducing a “hose with a mist spray” would not reduce the heat levels sufficiently to render the building safe, nor would it deal with the products of combustion present in the smoke and atmosphere. With the tremendous increase of synthetic petroleum based products in today’s homes, smoke can be both flammable and explosive if it is hot enough and reaches a source of oxygen. Google “Smoke Explosion” and you might find some interesting videos on the subject.

    The proper way to deal with a flashover would be ventilation, preferably vertical, coordinated with an attack team applying sufficient water to control the fire and reduce the heat. The application of a “mist spray” might work on board a ship, where each compartment is a sealed container, but not in a typical structure.

    Second, The incidents you describe (breaking windows, shooting water over the structure, directing water from a rooftop) all sound pretty bad. I’m not going to say that they are all poor tactics because I wasn’t there and don’t know the entire story, but if they were truly as you describe I would agree that they were bad. But I would doubt that you saw the entire picture, or know the entire story. I can’t imagine any fire department, paid or volunteer, would be that incompetent.

    You describe an incident at a garage where the door was wide open and no one was applying water to the fire. The picture you saw shows less than one second of that entire incident. Maybe a hose line was placed into operation right after the picture was taken. You also complained that the one fireman in the picture was directing the stream onto the roof, and not accomplishing anything. I would guess that the more likely explanation of that (and the other incidents that you cited) is he was covering an exposure, i.e. limiting the fire spread. If the fire is to far advanced or the structure to unstable, it isn’t safe to enter. The next course of action is to limit the damage by limiting the spread of the fire.

    You show a lot of concern with water damage. Believe it or not, we do to. But it has been my experience that if the fire is bad enough that we are spraying that much water, the structure and all of its contents are probably lost, or will be totaled by the insurance company due to the smoke and heat. I have also seen structures that were soaked from top to bottom due to the water needed to extinguish the fire that have been stripped down to the studs and rebuilt with no residual problem. Your example of crumbling wood with your hands is an example of long term water damage, not a short term exposure. The myth of “what the fire didn’t get the water did” is only partially correct. The proper saying would be “what the fire, heat and smoke didn’t get, the water did”. We do what we can to safeguard people’s property, particularly non-replaceable items such as pictures and personal items, but if it’s burning, we have to do what’s needed to extinguish the fire.

    In your opinion, you say that my profession is not a dangerous one. I would disagree. Yes, per capita, we have a lower death rate than other professions. The rate of injuries per capita is very high in the fire service. And the falling death rates are a reflection of increased emphasis on safety and training. When I started in the 80’s, it was common for 200 or more firefighters to die each year on the job. Now that number is below 100 and hopefully falling. Hopefully we will see a year with no fatalities. The difference is that those other professions are not intentionally inserting themselves into hazardous situations in an attempt to save lives and property. Logging, fishing and other professions are inherently dangerous, but those deaths are accidents. They have not intentionally entered a known hazardous area with the intention of rendering it safe or of saving lives. I’m not minimizing other professions losses, they are tragic and I have witnessed the aftermath first hand. Again, the difference is that what happened to them was an accident, not a situation where they intentionally inserted themselves into the environment with the intention of helping others.

    Also, your contention that fireman aren’t dying earlier than the general population is false. Study after study has shown a much higher incidence of heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other chronic illnesses that affect firefighters earlier than the general population. We are exposed to numerous carcinogens and chemicals that aren’t even fully understood at every fire we go to. As you said, breathing apparatus is far better than it was in the 60’s, but study after study has shown that chemicals are absorbed faster through the skin than previously thought, especially when you are hot and sweating. Breathing the chemicals is apparently the least of my worries.

    I think your overall opinion of firefighters is ill informed and very cynical. Are we all heroes? No, were just normal people doing what can be, at times, an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous job. In my 24 years, I have attended far too many funerals for guys killed on the job. Does that make me a hero? No.

    • gerold says:

      First, my apologies for taking so long to respond. I was out of town for a funeral.

      Second, I appreciate the time you took to leave a comment. It was well-balanced and thought out.

      Also, I appreciate you not resorting to name-calling as many do who disagree.

      Indeed, I never claimed to be an expert at fire-fighting which is why I welcome enlightened discussion. As for cynic? Yes, guilty as charged.

      As for statistics, I stand by those I cited as having the least axe to grind and therefore the most reliable.

      – Gerold

      • IceDefender says:

        Why is it so difficult to believe there is significant corruption, willing incompetence and dishonesty among the fire service? Cops get a ginormous amount of scorn and derision over incidences of corruption and misdemeanors, yet for some stupid reason fire fighting is off limits and thosein the profession can do no wrong. This couldn’t be further from the truth; they are just as susceptible to bad behaviour as the police or other branches of public sector. It’s more likely that Gerold is not imagining or inventing these scenarios, but rather there is an artificially induced cult of hero worship that has arisen over this profession to obscure the truth, just as has arisen among the armed forces. It makes more sense.
        JB doesn’t cite any sources for his claims on life expectancy or accident rate. He fails to mention that loggers, fishermen, pilots etc. are fully aware their occupation is hazardous, so there is conscious intent in their actions, not simply accident. He fails to explain why certain techniques Gerold mentions to combat the housefire are bad, and in general has either failed to correctly read the original blog post or is selectively omitting what was posted, since Gerold has clearly shown a sufficient knowledge and descripton of the structures.
        I believe Gerold has had much experience witnessing firefighting operations for long periods of time, and has read extensively on the subject. I believe his observations are accurate and his judgments valid.

  31. jerry says:

    agree with about 95% of article. brother was 40 year veteran fireman in chicago. you’d never know it from talking to him. not the kind of guy who wanted in area that is predominantly firemen and policemen. lot of doorways in neighborhood have to be widened so these guys can get their heads through them. that being said, you still sound like a guy who came home and found your old lady banging . the crew from the local firehouse. embrace the hatred!

    • gerold says:

      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, Jerry.

      Actually, I don’t have a personal bone to pick with firemen. I just got fed up with all the ass media bullshit.

      – Gerold

  32. Jeff bryan says:

    Wow! Gerald can I refer to you as a Hater because that’s what you are. Statistics are bullshit and can be manipulated. Do you realize how many firefighters are dying from cancer. Do you even understand the difference in fireload of a house in the 60s and today. It’s called plastic. Most of what’s in a house is plastic now. I won’t waist my time educating you on this look it up. Do a little more research. Look up CAFS. (Compressed air foam systems). Do you realize how much work it takes after a fire. It’s hours of work that has to be done before we do ANYTHING. You don’t see that because we do it at the station. We also do allot more then fire. Allot of departments are fire based EMS. look that up. Cut a child out of a car and then tell me how you feel. Cut the rope and try to save the teen hanging in the closet while a family is screaming at you. I have not had a raise in 5 years. We are struggling to stay ahead. I am not a Hero but I am a Lieutenant. I will do my best. I will put my life on the line to save yours.

    • gerold says:

      The more people blindly believe some sacred cow is directly proportional to the amount of whining and belly-aching I hear after exposing that sacred cow as bullshit. I did my homework and a lot of research before writing that article because I expected there’d be some hot-headed feedback.

      So, here we go; once more unto the breach.

      1) You call me a hater. I don’t hate people. I hate are bullshit and ignorance and there’s a lot of it.

      2) You say, “Statistics are bullshit and can be manipulated.” Reply: yes, statistics can be manipulated so you have to consider the source. Government statistics about the economy (inflation, unemployment, GDP growth, etc.) are usually bullshit because they have a vested interest in concealing the truth. On the other hand, NPR and CALPERS do NOT have a vested interest in lying so their statistics (that I site) are probably very reliable. I have a lot more confidence in their numbers than someone’s lack of knowledge and unawareness of verifiable evidence.

      3) You say, “Do you realize how many firefighters are dying from cancer.” Reply: lots of people are dying from cancer, not just fire fighters. Keep reading.

      4) There is a myth that fire fighters die an early death after retirement. There’s a similar myth about police dying early deaths due to job stress. They’re both myths. See the quotation below from the first link below. It sums it up very neatly. I also suggest you check the other links. The last one accesses the CALPERS study that proves early police and fire fighters’ deaths are bullshit.

      “For example, [police] men age 60 who had taken regular retirement were projected to live to age 82.7, versus age 81.9 for workers who were not in the public safety field. (Firefighter rates were close to those for police officers.)”

      Click to access experience-study.pdf

      5) I appreciate the extensive preparation time it takes to recharge and prepare CAFS. However fire fighters are not the only profession that does prep work. And, I applaud the increase in using CAFS instead of large volumes of damaging water.

      6) Yes, there’s more toxic shit produced by burning today’s extensive amount of plastic but today’s self-contained breathing apparatus are far superior to the 1960’s. I assume you use them.

      7) I’m sorry that you haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years but a lot of people are in the same sinking boat and it’s going to get a lot worse for most people (read some of my financial articles for the doom and gloom details).

      – Gerold

      • Jeff Bryan says:


        I did not become a firefighter until 8/1/2001. I changed professions at the age of 37. I have worked in the corporate world. I was Executive Vice President of a Savings and loan. I ran all of the bank owned facilities. The IMG center in Cleveland was probably my biggest project. I have a Bachelers degree from OU in Communications and my FMA and RPA from BOMI. If you worked in restoration you should have some knowledge of BOMI. I have an in depth knowledge in working with contractors, unions and greedy business owners. You can’t fool me Gerald. I started out as a volunteer firefighter. I never even thought about becoming a firefighter. I was asked asked a Neigborhood picnic. I obtained my FF1, 2, / EMT-I / Hazmat ops and wild land firefighting certs. I am now a career fire Liuetenant and ALS provider. I am also the training officer. Now to my point. I am at peace with what I do for a living. I truly believe I am making a difference helping people. I know I have saved lives. While on shift I treat everyone with respect. I don’t JUDGE anyone. I work for the people. It’s my job to help them. You just never know it could be you that i treat one day on the side of the road in Colorado. Even if I knew it was you my only job would be to help you! I would do it with a smile and compassion, I am not going to waste my time bantering back and forth. Just go do a ride along for a weekend and then report back. Better yet spend a 48 with me :).


        • gerold says:

          Thank you JB, for your insight. I also appreciate that you didn’t resort to name-calling which many of your colleagues did as you can see from their comments. Such personal attacks display a lack of maturity and civility as well as the poverty of their position which is to say that many of them, aside from their whining, don’t have a leg to stand on.

          That being the case, I won’t have to spank you as hard as I did them.

          1) I take issue with fire fighters and the idiotic methods they sometimes use in fighting fires. I never said I have an issue with fire fighters as rescue and EMS personnel.

          2) My issue is more with Fire Chiefs than with the rank and file. As I said in the article, firemen do what the Chief tells them.

          3) I do not have an issue with anyone’s career choice.

          4) Very few addressed the four examples of firefighting idiocy that I witnessed except obliquely. Why not? Probably because they truly are examples of idiocy and difficult to justify.

          5) I suppose I’m somewhat of a visionary. Some people see what is and ask why? I see what is NOT and ask why not? Why don’t we develop modern firefighting techniques based on the principles of physics instead of methods that are centuries old? Heat rises so why is one lone fire hose directed at the burning floor instead of the burning ceiling in my third example? Why are there no empirical studies on this? Do we share enough best practices? Why not use more CAFS instead of so much damaging water.

          6) Mine is a different perspective as I spell out very clearly on the Home page; “if you can’t stand to have your cherished beliefs challenged, then you better stop reading this and watch the crap on TV instead.” Perhaps they linked directly to this article bypassing the Home page. If that’s the case, I’ll add this warning.

          7) I expected some negative feedback so I did my homework and researched this thoroughly before posting it.

          8) I would hope the cry-babies I heard from are not representative of the profession. I would also hope the lack of reading comprehension is also not representative.

          9) I’m surprised how many commenters agree with my position.

          10) Yes, I JUDGE and I expect excellence (not perfection). Lower the bar and you get poor performance. Raising the bar delivers better performance. Most professions today demand excellence whether its piloting, surgery, accounting, whatever. Even digging a ditch can be dangerous if not done properly. There’s no excuse for sloppy firefighting.

          – Gerold

  33. jay says:

    Well I can tell you are a reader and not a doer. First what you described in the story sounded like what could have been a back draft. Not to mention water damage is the least of your worries when having a fire. Even when you think the room is ok you have to check for extension. How many times you can check a kitchen for heat after a fire and have it in the wall. Fireman would be idiots for checking. If the place burned to the ground because no one looked, it the firemen’s fault. Damned if you do damned if you don’t. However you must be a fire academy graduate, knowing all the terms and descriptions. second how dangerous the job is, Well not as bad as hollywood makes it out to be, but not ass little as youre so call graph depicts. Three the fire service does not pay all that well nor do pensions, if you even see it. Some places do better than others. Funny you didn’t talk about how more than half of the united state are volunteer fire companies which most people don’t know cause its based on the tax bracket in you area. Most metro areas are paid with some suburban that are all paid or volunteer/ paid. Fourth look and detroit fd. Have you heard about them and what their struggle.They have holes in boots and jackets and pants broken trucks and the city can’t replace nothing as the city burn.Try watching the documentary burn. No i don’t think firefighters are heros but don’t to demean them with slanderous bs.

    • gerold says:

      Thanks for commenting. You’re right; I did not know that half the U.S. fire companies are volunteers.

      You said, “First what you described in the story sounded like what could have been a back draft.” I presented four stories. Not sure which one you’re referring to – possibly the first (you did read them all I assume?). Either way, I’m not sure what you’re point is but if fire fighters are trained; they should be able to anticipate back drafts and flash-overs.

      I’m sorry that the statistics don’t support your beliefs about the dangers of fire fighting but my “so-called graph” comes from NPR whose statistics are confirmed by the numerous other sources I referenced. You can click on the blue links to access them. In other words, I didn’t dream this up.

      I tried “watching the documentary Burn” as you suggested but all I found was the Hollywood movie about Department 50 of Detroit. It’s a heart-wrenching movie, but it’s not a documentary. I assume you know the difference.

      Speaking of Detroit – given that sorry state of affairs (the whole city is bankrupt) but they are hardly representative of all fire departments.

      Interesting comment that I’m a “reader not a doer”. My job is in operations (logistics). I move a lot of shit. In my spare time I do a lot of reading; it’s called research. I uncover a lot of bullshit like firemen as heroes when in fact their death rate is on par with store clerks. Except they get paid a lot more.

      – Gerold

  34. Jun says:

    This guy is a complete idiot and has no ideal what he’s talking about. But I mean hey people have they own thoughts and opinions. SO its whatever. When your sick or your house is burning down don’t trip we’ll be there for you.

    • gerold says:

      When my house is burning down I’ll order a pizza and enjoy the spectacle.

      Now, grow up, go back and actually read the article and if you have something intelligent to say please comment on the real-life examples and the statistical evidence I presented because name-calling proves you have NO case, no argument and not a leg to stand on.

      You’re showing the world you can’t handle reality and you DON’T LIKE IT (Oh, poor baby) as if anyone cares for your opinion!

    • His 4 story examples occurred and were witness by him over a 40 year span of time. Now after 40 years he has polished his essay and has displayed it to the world, but failing to let it be known that his bases for this is based on 4 fire’s of long ago.

      • gerold says:

        Re: all four of your comments:

        What’s with your hang-up about forty years? You’re fixated on that as if it had some relevance. What difference does it make if the examples I listed took place over four years or forty?

        By the way, since you have such poor reading comprehension; I’ll spell it out to make it easy for you. The examples didn’t take place forty years ago but over a forty year period. Again, what difference does it make? You’re making a mountain out of a molehill otherwise known as a “straw-man argument”. You are unable to refute anything I’ve written (other than whining) so you create a man of straw in order to knock it down.

        The article is about fire fighters. It is NOT about emergency personnel. Do try to stay focused on the subject or are you trying to create another straw man?

        You’re also full of Non Sequiturs meaning “it does not follow” or jumping to conclusions. Heroism is not defined by the safety of an occupation. My argument is with fire fighters who give themselves heroic awards for an occupation I PROVED is safe and the ass media that mindlessly promulgates such BS.

        And, yes, I spank idiots hard. If you have a problem with that then try posting something that actually makes sense.


  35. Brian says:

    Great article…many working folks are coming to the realization that firemen are overpaid, often uneducated, fat pigs. It’s time to privatize and improve the overall efficiency of the fire piggies.

    • gerold says:

      Thanks for your comment, Brian. I’m not getting much argument. In addition to restructuring, they also need to re-think the centuries-old method of drowning a building to save it.

      Having been a renovator in the past, I’ve seen the incredible damage water does to buildings.

  36. Brilliant ,funny true article

  37. A struggling American says:

    Finally, the truth comes out. I’m sick of it being “trendy” to become a damn firefighter! I’m sick of wasting my money to pay their salaries. Honestly, what do they really do? They can’t respond fast enough to save a building from burning to the ground. As far as medical emergencies, we can rely on EMT’s and Paramedics…

    • gerold says:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself. About the only good they do is keeping the fire from spreading. Usually, that’s neither life-threatening nor “heroic”.

  38. Sully says:

    This guy rhymes with Smoke!
    He’s a Stroke!

  39. Heratio says:

    Fire fighters are useless! I typed that exact phrase into google and this is where it took me. It should be a 100% volunteer job. I really don’t mean to say they’re useless, but the overpaid rich ones are. Fire fighters respond to every emergency call… So unneccessary! I saw a car that had a minor bump in the side of it, clearly from an accident. Fire dept. responds and had 3 lands blocked off while the fucking truck is parked almost sideways in the road, while all “firefighters” are standing around scratching their balls. I’m sick of paying for these assholes’ pensions and salaries. This guy is right about the instance part of the article as well. Whoever is against this blog is clearly:
    1. A firefighter
    2. Someone who if close friends or married to, or a parent of a firefighter
    3. Someone who had their cat pulled from a tree.
    4. Somone who in the rare circumstance that there even was a fire and was helped.

    Tax dollars could be spent a lot better. AKA save the fucking money! Don’t need to spend into a deficit! Cut fire departments nationwide!

    Unless of course there are volunteers. Which there would be. Because there are decent people out there who will do good deeds without being paid ridiculous amounts

  40. Jeff says:

    What happens when a firefighter actually saves a life? Does he become a double hero? Or if he saves another firefighter is he now a super hero? Hero by default is crap.

  41. John Halgren says:

    I didn’t read your entire article. Whenever I see someone posting such a scathing critique on subjects that they obviously have no training or education in, I ignore them. When I read what you believe should have been the proper tactics regarding a building fire, it made me chuckle.

    “The proper procedure should have been breaking a small window pane, insertion of a hose with a mist spray to reduce heat and thus prevent flash-over.”

    So professor, what was the life hazard of this building? Please tell me what you saw when you performed your size-up? Do you know what thermal layering is? Do you know what happens to any potential victims when you ‘spray that little mist’? Do you understand that by venting a building you briefly make conditions better (rescue time) then they get much worse? You must know that the smoke was over 800 degrees at the ceiling BEFORE the windows were vented, therefore the building had already been lost. What you DON’T know is that the floor in such buildings can remain very tenable for victims, even in such conditions. What you DON’T know is that the application of a fog nozzle (not a little mist) to such conditions upsets thermal layering, thereby cooking everyone who may have survived.

    You assume the profession is full of cheats and lazy government workers. I have to wonder how one could know all of that by merely watching from the street?

    My turn. I will assume that you are a pompous gas bag who believes himself to be the smartest person in just about any room he graces his presence with. You now realize that you’ve wasted your life handling money and are finally starting to feel the pain of your old age. In your waning years you so desperately wish to ‘impart your knowledge’ on the the rest of the world because you have so much to offer! Like the kings and queens of history, your feeling of self-importance is driving you to carve your words on a wall so that all may know the true depth of your wisdom. What’s eating at you is that you are just wise enough to know that nobody cares what an aging money changer has to say. I hope you enjoy your wit, I know that I truly did not.

    • gerold says:

      You admit you didn’t read the entire article. That’s too bad because the article had four examples of bumbling idiocy and you commented on just one. Had you read all four you might have seen the common thread of idiocy that runs through them all.

      I never claimed to be an expert on firefighting so you’re guilty of the straw man fallacy (putting words in my mouth.) Had there been only one example of idiocy, I might have admitted my lack of expertise, assumed the firefighters knew what they were doing and left it at that. But, FOUR examples!!! How many idiotic examples does it take to prove idiocy even to a layman such as myself?

      Life hazard in the first example was ZERO as all the employees got out safely before the fire clowns arrived; so upsetting ‘thermal layering’ was not an issue. Furthermore, no attempt at rescue could have been attempted as flashover occurred the instant all the windows were smashed “thoroughly cooking’ anyone so it’s fortunate no one was inside.
      Judging from your response, I’d guess you were a fire fighter who doesn’t like having the “hero fireman” myth busted. Better not read any more of my articles because this is a bunk-buster blog that exposes such bullshit.

      No, I do not assume the profession is full of cheats and lazy government workers (there you go with another straw man fallacy). I said they were over-paid bureaucrats as shown by the statistics you never bothered reading. Nor is firefighting dangerous because the death rate is less than the national average and about the same as store cashiers. But, of course you never read that far.

      I do, however question the intelligence of four different fire chiefs in four different examples. I do NOT blame the fire fighters as they were only following orders – something you would have read if you hadn’t stopped reading after only the first example.

      One never knows if someone is an ass or not until they open their mouths and remove all doubt. I’d suggest that in future you read the whole article before you go off half-cocked and prove to my readers which category you fall into.

      It’s interesting that out of more than 400 comments on about 200 articles, the only two negative comments are on this one article exposing the “hero fireman” myth. This demonstrates the potency of the propaganda that you’ve obviously swallowed.

      I won’t dignify your character attacks (‘ad hominem fallacies) with a rebuttal (Strike three! You’re OUT!) but you obviously have severe and unresolved anger management issues. You must be Amerikan because your lack of civility is truly stunning.

  42. Tom says:

    Here’s a question for you. Why do people who barely passed classes to get a GED, who become firefighters/policemen, get all of these great discounts and benefits. But when someone does well in school, goes and gets their B.A. and M.A., gets zero discounts and benefits anywhere. Just because I decided to better my life, and JoeSchmoe decided he had nothing else he could do in life besides become a firefighter, gets rewarded for his lack of education.

    • gerold says:

      Good questions.
      1) Life isn’t fair.
      2) We’re hostage to them and to the ‘hero’ propaganda.
      3) On my first day of university, the Student Council President told us even if we don’t make another nickel, a university education still worth every penny spent (excessive student debt wasn’t an issue back in the dinosaur age).

      In grade school we learn how to learn which is useful because we’ll spend the rest of our lives learning. In university, we learn how to think which is even more useful because a lot of people will try to tell us WHAT to think and, by learning HOW to think critically we can avoid this mental enslavement.

      Maybe life is fair after all?

    • John Halgren says:

      Go pick up an application for your local police/fire departments. You will see that the educational requirements are far from what you believe them to be.

      • gerold says:

        Once again, if you had read the article and the readers’ comments you’d have read that “I fail to see what education has to do with idiocy. I know educated people who are idiots and I know uneducated people who are not. One has nothing to do with the other.”

  43. GBV says:

    I’ve argued this with my friends many times (though usually about police; particularly the number of police who die vs. construction workers), usually to no avail. Some of their arguments are good, however – police (and probably fire fighter) pay doesn’t just reflect *danger pay* (as your chart points out), but the stress of the job as well. Given the number of brain dead, drug addicted, uneducated, immoral cretins in society I can’t imagine these first responders enjoy their job when they’re showing up domestic disputes, abused children, cracked-out mothers microwaving her babies, etc.

    That being said, I don’t think *cash* alleviates those stresses for anyone other than those who are psychopaths, feel no emotion, and only do everything for personal gain. For those of us who are still *human beings*, I think doing something that helps others is probably the main motivator for most of the things we do and the extra money helps us enjoy our lives and keep healthy/fit for the work we do. The minute we start demanding more money for what we do, we’ve gone mercenary and the problem probably has more to do with something other than pay inequities.

    Just some other thoughts:

    “Instead, the fireman, using axes and pikes began breaking all the windows on several sides of the building.”

    How cavalier. One might suggest that’s what men in these kinds of jobs do – and to some degree, they’d be right. But I’ve worked in a grocery store, a restaurant, a factory/warehouse, a clothing store, a telemarketing business, and several various government organizations in an administrative capacity (including supporting emergency management) and I can say I’ve seen both men and women react to situations this way.

    They are what I call “Doers”, and they’ve taken over the society in which we live.
    All of the “Thinkers” are either extinct, are pseudo/faux-Thinkers (i.e. Psychopaths who don’t truly THINK, but use their lizard-brain to figure out what’s best for them to get ahead at any given moment), or they aren’t given the time of day by the “Doers” and certainly don’t climb to the top of corporations, as high-up “Doers” prefer to have many non-questioning “Doers” underneath them.

    My two cents anyway.

    “Could the Fire Chief not see this? Needless to say, the building burned to the ground.”

    I think this leads to a better point than suggesting firemen are idiots.

    This line makes me think “PEOPLE are idiots. Some PEOPLE work as firemen. And some of those (idiot) PEOPLE become leaders within their organization, yet display no sound leadership whatsoever”.

    I always blame leadership.
    Blame parents for bratty kids. Blame corrupt government for corrupt businesses. Blame corrupt/immoral people for corrupt governments. So on and so forth.

    “Witnessing such idiocy, I turned and left; knowing the house was lost. Even if idiot firemen extinguish a fire, they usually do so much water damage that much of the remainder of a building has to be gutted and rebuilt.” and “Since it was a peaked roof, the water ran off the roof never touching the fire inside.”

    This is just a guess, but I don’t think Firemen care about saving your house.
    They care more about preventing the spread of fire to other homes, and let insurance worry about taking care of you and your house.

    That’s a good and bad thing I suppose. The bad being they’re probably pretty careless and sloppy about their work from the perspective of the home owner. The good being that they’re trying to make sure nobody else has to have their home burn down.

    If we didn’t have insurance which causes moral hazards (“don’t worry if it burns down; insurance will cover it!”, if we directly funded our firefighters rather than through some huge anonymous government organization, or if we all just had local volunteer fire brigades then perhaps this would be a different story (but there’s probably a downside to that I’m not seeing).

    “The reason they give is they need to extinguish the fire as fast as possible to be able to respond to the next emergency.” and “Because they’re in a hurry to get back to the fire house so they can continue scratching their nether regions.”

    The only thing I might suggest about having a lot of them standing around is that I’m all for redundancy when it comes to emergencies. I used to (still do?) practice process improvement, Total Quality blah blah blah, and all that fun stuff. It took me a few years to see the danger of always looking for efficiency – efficiency is very fragile. As an example, look at Japanese Just-in-Time (JIT) systems after the tsunami hit…

    So sometimes having a few extra idle hands isn’t so bad. In the transit world, we used to plan a “contingency budget” to have extra buses and drivers waiting in the wings should a bus break down and/or an accident occur. This was an unnecessary cost I suppose, but not if you always wanted to have a “back up” to make sure service continued uninterrupted (or with as little interruption as possible).

    The question is how much redundancy is good versus when do you get into the realm of wastefulness?

    Back to police and fire fighters being far more safe than our basic workers and being thought of as heroes when really the risks are minimal, I absolutely agree. Its to the point with police that they’re actually training to shoot pregnant women & children to make sure the police officer will react and save their own life when faced with such a threat (

    Leaving aside any conspiracy talk about how this, along with the Department of Homeland Security buying 1.6 billion bullets, looks like the US government is gearing up to disarm the US population, I can say it sickens me that we’re more concerned about the safety of a police officer who is carrying lethal force, is trained in its use, and has access to some of the most advanced body armour systems in the world than the non-lethal disarming of a pregnant woman and/or child. In fact, I think there is huge risk of “false positives”, whereby training police to shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to pregnant women & children will result in more pregnant women & children being shot and killed in circumstances that do not warrant force (e.g. kid with toy gun, pregnant woman reaching into purse, etc.).

    The world has gone mad.
    One can only hope it collapses in on itself.

    • gerold says:

      You’ve again provided interesting perspectives.

      I don’t begrudge police pay or their pensions as they deal with some of humanity’s worst drek on a daily basis. I’ve known a few cops with experience and the only one not completely bitter was a dog handler involved mostly with search and rescue. I don’t think any amount of pay can compensate for the psychological scars and their high suicide rate is a testament to that.

      Firemen are a different matter. I doubt if the stress they feel is anywhere near the intensity of police work; they don’t deal with humanities underside and on-the-job death statistics prove firefighting isn’t as dangerous as they want us to believe. If anyone can call themselves heroes it would be the police, not firemen.

      I agree that the problem is one of leadership. Idiot leaders cause the idiot results I described. What I cannot understand is why there’s such a preponderance of idiocy among fire chiefs & marshals. The “doers” as you call them need to be managed but the leadership to do that is sorely lacking.

      As a 6 Sigma black belt, I can appreciate the need for “inefficient” redundancy in situations like firefighting while the fire is being fought but that doesn’t mitigate the unnecessary water damage only in the interests of a speedy return to the fire station when a small team equipped with heat detectors can prevent flare-ups after the fire is extinguished. That’s idiocy, not redundancy and it drives up everyone’s insurance rates.

      And, yes, the questionable actions of police in the Excited States is certainly getting out of hand and that too is a result of leadership and direction from above. More and more police brutality is coming to light and, as you said, 1.6 million rounds of hollow-point ammunition is disconcerting as is Homeland’s recent acquisition of 2,700 armored personnel carriers. The U.S. is rapidly turning into a police state. I saw a traffic cam video of a cop senselessly shooting a fleeing J-walker six times in the back to stop him and finished him off with a coup de grace to his head.

      Indeed, the world is going mad and we haven’t seen the end of it. I can’t begin to tell you how glad I am to be living in this boring land of ice and snow.

      • Mary says:

        You certainly have a warped opinion. Are you getting paid for the number of times you spell idiot?
        Of course you were on the sidelines and left in a hurry to get back home and spell more words . Also the firemen I know are very educated . One question for you ….. Are you on a volunteer fire dept???
        I didn’t think so .

        • gerold says:

          I’m glad you appreciate my warped opinion. I have a warped sense of humor, too.

          If you actually read the article you might have noticed four solid examples of idiocy which I notice you conveniently overlooked.

          Also, if you actually read the article, you might have noticed my issue isn’t so much with idiot fire fighters but IDIOT fire chiefs. After all. ‘da boyz’ only do what the idiot fire chiefs order them to do.

          I fail to see what education has to do with idiocy. I know educated people who are idiots and I know uneducated people who are not. One has nothing to do with the other.

          No, I am not a volunteer fire fighter (although I know several). I live in a city that does not have volunteer fire brigades.

          There, I’ve used the word idiot and idiocy a bunch more times. Now I’ll get paid even more. Whee!!!

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