Friday, September 30, 2011

Of Heroism and Injustice

The Meaford Fire Department hearings were cancelled today and rescheduled for the week of December 5-9. I hate to see the agony prolonged, but if it gives the good guys' lawyers a chance to build a better case, I say go for it. As for these "good guys," rest assured that I refer to the fine folk of Meaford Fire Department.

I don't know them personally, and I don't pretend that they ran a flawless response on that fateful day. I do know the nature of the firefighter mission, and I see little benefit in brutalizing public servants that volunteer to crawl into burning buildings. Identify problems? Yes. Fix them? Absolutely. Allow a pack of overpaid lawyers to drag our best citizens through the muck and mire of court hearings, fines, and who knows what else? You've got rocks in your head. If our best fix is to kick a guy when he's down, something is terribly wrong with our system.

Here's an addendum to my previous suggestion that the prosecution pursue the case pro bono: if, in your infinite wisdom and understanding of justice, you decide that fines are necessary to make the wrongs right, so be it . . . but take the money and roll it back into the fire service. Better still, double or triple the money. If you are sincerely interested in making firefighters safer and smarter (and I would be with you heart and soul on that, by the way), do something positive for a change.

Whew. Nothing like coming in with both guns blazing at an opponent who neither knows, nor cares to know my opinion. But at least I feel better.

Speaking of heroes (and I was speaking of heroes), two firefighters in Mogadore, Ohio made a daring rescue last week. A true meeting of courage and opportunity if ever there was one. If you follow firefighter news, you've probably already seen the footage taken from a police video, but in case you haven't, here it is.

Such is the maddening enigma of our line of work. Two Mogadore firefighters tackled a rescue and fire attack without a RIT team, and possibly without an accountability or command system. They could have easily been injured or killed. They made two rescues and were rightly hailed as heroes. Two Meaford firefighters tackled a rescue and fire attack (allegedly) without a RIT team, proper accountability or command. They were injured and nearly killed. They found no one to rescue, and their department is villified. Does no one see the irony of these parallel stories?

I have no intention of lessening the heroism of the one, but I am frustrated by the hell-bent, tunnel visioned blindness that can't acknowlege the heroism of the other. It puts a new and sinister twist to the old saying that justice is blind.

I don't even like the word hero, by the way, but since we're on the topic, you can see CNN's top ten heroes for 2011 here. Whether you agree with their choices or not, it shows that hero, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Part of my self-proclaimed mission, by the way, is to change the perspective of the beholders. It's an impossible task, but I would be doing an injustice the firefighters of Meaford, Mogadore, and thousands like them across North America if I didn't give it my best shot.

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