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firefighters break law to save homes

2002-07-20 17:37:25+00 by Dan Lyke 10 comments

Large American Penis linked to an article about how the Clay Springs Volunteer Fire Department disobeyed Federal orders in order to save their town.

"In an emergency situation, it can't be a democracy," said Roy Hall, operations chief of the incident management team. "Somebody's got to be in charge. And true heroism comes through standing together. This little community tried to maintain its identity to a fault, to a detriment."

I dunno, asshole, it sounds like they managed to save their own places even though you wanted to sacrifice their homes so that you could use their efforts for some "greater good".

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comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-07-20 20:36:25+00 by: Shawn

I dunno. I'm torn on this one. I can see the point of the officials - that you can't just have people ignoring orders and the command structure to go do their own thing. But in this case, it looks like the commands coming down were inappropriate. (Of course, not having been there, we'll never know for sure.)

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 00:23:41+00 by: meuon

They were successful. It makes a big difference. If they were martyrs, and died for a hopeless cause, or did not save most of the town, we would feel differently. We live in a country founded by successful revolutionaries and I think that as a country and society we expect this type of behavior.

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 01:16:19+00 by: Larry Burton

Basically this was a disagreement over jurisdiction. The volunteers were acting under the authority of the person who was responsible for fires in that district. The feds claimed that their authority superseded that of the locals, and perhaps it did when the feds were involved in fire fighting in that area. The feds had abandoned fire fighting in that area so jurisdiction rescended back into the hands of the locals.

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 05:26:46+00 by: topspin

I gotta disagree, Larry. When the Dept. of Public Safety has roadblocks and is calling a place too dangerous, then I assume they're still in control of the area.

Were the feds/state still fighting the fire in the area? No. Why? Too dangerous. Were the DPS and feds wrong about their assessment of the situation? Clearly, since these local folks were not nearly as well equipped with safety gear, but no one was injured apparently.

Were I one of the locals, I'd be putting the obvious next questions in front of the media. Who made the call that this fire was "too dangerous to fight" when it obviously wasn't too dangerous even for amateurs? Since wildfires are going to recur and these types of decisions will come up again, shouldn't someone be investigating what went wrong here, who is responsible, and shouldn't there be some discussion whether the person(s) should remain in the position to make these kinds of decisions?

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 07:09:03+00 by: Shawn

meuon; I agree that our society expects this type of behavior. But does that make it right? And if they had died should we have accepted the feds shaking their heads and saying "we told you so"? (I'm not arguing one point or the other - just providing fuel for discussion. As I said, I'm torn on this one.)

I think the direction I'm headed is the questions that topspin brought up. But until he did I was feeling that point was so obvious as to not be worth mentioning...

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 15:35:29+00 by: Dan Lyke

I have a couple of complaints, the first is that Roy Hall is trying to redefine "hero" for his own purposes. From Nelson holding the telescope to his blind eye at the battle of Copenhagen, "You know Foley I have only one eye. I have a right to be blind sometimes. I really do not see the signal", to this incident, heroes are always the ones who buck conventional wisdom, fly in the face of authority, and get results.

So my asshole-detector went off immediately when I read this schmuck trying to push functioning within a bureacracy as a heroism.

Which brings me to my second complaint: If those who put together the equipment and manpower to fight this fire wish to risk their lives, even spend their lives, saving their homes, what right does anyone have to stop them? "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed", a government which insists on telling me how I cannot spend my life is dangerously close to one which insists on telling me how I must.

And I've also been reading Iain Pears' new novel, Dream of Scipio[Wiki], which has as one of its themes the evil which comes from bureacrats trying to appease more centralized governments. We're way down the slippery slope here.

#Comment made: 2002-07-21 17:42:08+00 by: meuon [edit history]

"functioning within a bureacracy as a heroism." anyone that can do is is MY hero. I can't. Dan hits a point, if I CHOOSE to risk my own life, against others 'better' judgement and/or authority. It is my life. As long as I do not hold others responsible for my decisions, or blame others, I should be able to risk it for almost any reason that does hurt others: Survival is a personal option.

#Comment made: 2002-07-22 22:25:51+00 by: Shawn

if I CHOOSE to risk my own life, against others 'better' judgement and/or authority.

In general I agree. This is one of my most basic personal tenets/beliefs. But if I join an organization dedicated to the "greater good" (whatever that is) and agree to give up that authority over myself, then I have an obligation to follow through on that.

When I joined the military, I did so with the full understanding that I was giving up my right to decide how and where my skills and life would best be used (barring an "immoral order"). That is the price I agreed to pay (for eight years).

I have no problem with individuals choosing to risk their lives as they choose - and, in fact, have the utmost respect for them. But I am bothered by members of an organization pledged to fight the whole fire running off to do their own thing. What if the next time a group does this lives are lost because there are not enough people and equipment left to fight the new front when the fire shifts?

(That said, I also disagree with Hall's definition of a "hero".)

#Comment made: 2002-07-22 23:10:52+00 by: Larry Burton

I'm seeing a real possiblity that the "volunteers" saw the feds order to abandon their town as an "immoral order."

#Comment made: 2002-07-23 05:52:03+00 by: Shawn

Larry; I agree. I'm still not saying the "renegades" did the wrong thing. I'm just saying such issues are not black-and-white.