EMMITSBURG, Md. -- Pick up a newspaper or watch the evening news in just about any town or city, and you’re bound to see and hear about the misdeeds of a firefighter, paramedic or other responder.
Angry and upset about how these actions are affecting the storied reputation of emergency services, a Code of Ethics has been created, and fire officials are hoping departments across the country adopt it.
The Code of Ethics document now graces the walls of classroom buildings at the National Fire Academy in Maryland.
In addition, the information is in all NFA student manuals and eventually, will be in all text books utilized at colleges and universities where accredited fire-related courses are taught.
NFA Superintendent Dr. Denis Onieal said he was pleased that following a lecture based on Jim Collins’ book ‘How The Mighty Fall,’ alumni of the Executive Fire Officers program stepped up to the plate to tackle the project.
Bill Bingham and Pat Kelley referred to a white paper issued by the Cumberland Valley Volunteer Firemen’s Association as they developed the project on behalf of the National Society of Executive Fire Officers.
“They took what Cumberland Valley did, and expanded it…” he explained recently. “I’m pleased that some state training agencies have adopted it and will integrate it into their programs…”
CVVFA Past President Steve Austin said he couldn’t be more pleased that the white paper he helped pen has gotten the attention it has.
“Anytime a headline lists an arrest and identifies the person as a firefighter or responder, it sheds a bad light. It’s an embarrassment to the local department and the people in that department,” Austin said.
Howard Cohen, who also helped with the white paper said some younger members may not fully understand what’s at stake when they post something on Facebook, Twitter or other social media outlets.
Creating a black eye is hard to overcome, and Austin said departments can’t survive once they’ve lost the public’s trust. “We’re under more scrutiny,” he said. “We have to put our best foot forward all the time.”