Brickbat: We Didn't Start the Fire


Eighteen Detroit firefighters are being investigated after posing for a group photo outside of a burning house on New Year's Eve. The house was vacant, and it was deemed too dangerous to enter. But Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said the photo was still "inappropriate and unprofessional." "Behind every fire is a devastated family or property owner," he said. The firefighters were reportedly celebrating the retirement of a battalion chief.

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  1. It looks like they forgot to give the Nazi salute.

    1. in blackface

      1. While smoking.

        1. And roasting marshmallows.

          1. And wieners out for Harambe.

  2. Do they know for sure the house was vacant? They might be using the same database that police use, which frequently has incorrect or outdated information.

    Besides, the well-known pop song referenced by the article’s title described an attempt to cover up a string of arson attacks. The character in the song rattles off numerous mentions of celebrity names and recent news to confuse his questioners and distract them from figuring out it was him who was burning down buildings.

  3. If there is a picture, exactly what is being “investigated”?
    Are they researching which member is closest to retirement to pick them out as scapegoat with nothing to lose? What?

    1. We will find out when the investigation is concluded in April.

    2. There is a picture. It’s all over social media.
      The real questions are:
      Whose idea was this?
      Was anything actually sacrificed or damaged because of the photo?
      If not, and it would have just been standing-around-time, was it a crime, a violation of policy, or just insensitive to the owner who lost their home?

      It’s quite possible this is no more than a violation of manners.

    3. The picture is a yellow flag, not necessarily a sign that they did something “bad”, but an indication that they might have.

      The investigation was/is to determine that. The conclusion so-far seems to be “nothing wrong, just stupid and unwise”.

  4. I’m not really seeing a brickbat here. If they were paramedics posing in front of car crash victims or something I could see it, and yes, maybe it’s unprofessional but not outrageous.

    Kodak moment leads to controversy! A Detroit fire crew is now in hot water after taking this photo for a fireman’s retirement. The vacant home eventually burned to the ground. I’ll have reaction from people nearby in about 30 mins on @Local4News

    Well, not outrageous the way normal people define outrage. Twitter mob outrage by a Twitter mob outrage manufacturer, sure. But we all know this sort of bullshit is bullshit and I’d just as soon watch WWE for my manufactured outrage, the storylines are more interesting.

    1. That is the story… that a couple of tweets can become scary enough that they have to open an official “investigation”. As other people have posted, what the heck is there to investigate? The took a picture. You have the picture. You know who was there. Investigation complete.

      All there is to do is decide if there is actually anything to do. Are they going to fire people for posing for a picture? I doubt it. Was it a good call to let the fire burn? I doubt they made that decision lightly or in the complete absence of department policy.

      So “investigation” probably actually means “figure out how big a deal this is and decide what cover we need”.

      This is police-abuse adjacent. We can’t have a real discussion because fake outrage makes everyone defensive and stupid.

      The right answer for something like this is to say “yeah, i can see how that might look bad, but there was no threat to other structures and no action to take at that moment, so they are not actually doing anything wrong.” Then you could have a policy discussion about letting structures burn if you wanted to.

      But we can’t do that. We have to be outraged, demand investigations and a pound of flesh. I’m surprised that this hasn’t been labeled racist in that world view…. that seems to be a go-to.

  5. Oops. Forgot obligatory:

    You know who else didn’t start a fire?

    1. Not any Boy Scouts I knew.

      1. Ok, I didn’t start the fire. Not with my bow drill. Holy crap, that isn’t as easy as it looks. We only had the hour… and I’m not convinced our wood was dry enough or soft enough. But still, I learned that I don’t want to have to use that method.

        I used steel wool and battery, flint and steel, pressure fire starters, even magnesium. But the old “rubbing two sticks together” thing….. sheesh.

    2. Billy Joel?


  6. The firemen were there to make sure the fire didn’t spread.

    Letting these ramshackle shitholes burn to the ground happens all the time.

    1. its often cheaper to let it burn than to put out the fire and try to repair the damage

      1. And expose responders to unnecessary risks. Actually a perfect photo op for someone’s retirement.

        Of course anything and everything, like cadets using an “ok” sign to play some stadium game, is grist for the outrage mill.

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