Skip to comments.Patriotic helmet needs to go, Newton Fire Chief says (Massachusetts)
Posted on 12/16/2008 9:03:18 PM PST by buccaneer81
Patriotic helmet needs to go, Newton Fire Chief says
By Ben Terris, Globe Correspondent
A veteran of the Iraq War, Richard Busa is used to fighting for the American flag. But never quite like this.
After more than three years of rushing into fires with his signature red, white and blue helmet, the Newton firefighter has been told to paint it black. Newton Fire Chief Joseph LaCroix wants the patriotic decoration gone, saying it does not conform to the department's rules.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
If the chief was a Viet vet, I’d say it’s about time he retire and let a new dog take the lead dog role.
Colin Powell was a Vietnam vet, too.
You're absolutely right.
Thanks for posting that.
I understand the need for standard uniforms. Who knows what some yahoo might do to push the envelope if you start making exceptions. As much as it pains me to say this, from what I know of the story I’d have to side with the chief on this.
...what happened to free speech/expression?
> Newton Fire Chief Joseph LaCroix wants the patriotic decoration gone, saying it does not conform to the department’s rules.
What an unpatriotic pencil-pushing plonker.
> LaCroix, himself a veteran of the Vietnam War, said that his decision has nothing to do with the flag, but with how he wants his department to conduct business.
> “We run a quasi-military operation here,”
Mistake #1: no you don’t, sir, or at least you shouldn’t. Fire Brigade is an Emergency Service, not a branch of the Military.
If my late Dad were to hear about what is happening in his home state........
You’re right. Here in Ohio, the only quasi-military organization recognized is the Ohio Highway Patrol (aka the State Police.)
I hear you. My dad has been buried in Massachusetts since 1972.
I escaped forever in 1991.
I do understand your position. But this isn't like painting Cartman or a NASCAR logo on the helmet. His helmet art is indicative of the finest American emotion.
Check out US Naval aviators and USAF pilots helmets. Not exactly "uniform."
Although the answer given by the chief is pretty pathetic, and these won’t be a popular points, I think they bear consideration...
How about the Massachusetts flag, to show that you support the States’ Rights inherent in the Constitution, our primary allegiance before the national one? Or how about the UN, since we’re a member of them?
How about if a member of the Cincinnati Bengals decided to paint his helmet Red, White, and Blue in honor of his nation?
Fire helmet colors can indicate very specific things, depending on where you are. In many cases, the privilege of wearing a special helmet is earned...so this would be like someone pinning on a Colonel’s bird just because he thinks it looks cool and patriotic, or calling yourself “Doctor” without becoming one.
For example, many places use white for chief (some places make the shield white but the helmet still black for chief, and all white is district chief), red for captain, yellow for lieutenant (or engineer), blue for medics or safety personnel, and orange for newbies who need to be watched. Sometimes the color indicates professional vs volunteer. Although these color codes are differ from place to place, in one area they tend to be known amongst departments and agencies.
Emergency scenes are not a place where a person from another department or agency should have to try to figure out that the blue flash they see is only the field of blue in a flag, etc.
That was what struck me most about his comments.
I say if you’ve earned it you should be able to wear it. If you haven’t served, no flag helmet. Wouldn’t that solve the ‘what’s next?’ problem.
And he’s been wearing this for three years? Why now is it a problem?
How about a compromise?
Make it part of the uniform regs for the fire department to have its helmets painted with the American flag. Only optional variation would be for former honorably discharged service men to have their service branch painted into the scheme.
But I agree with both of you.
> That was what struck me most about his comments.
It’s disturbing, isn’t it? There’s nothing wrong with being a civilian, yet it seems that everyone wants to play soldier.
They are riding within the vehicle. I guarantee the Navy would have something to say if a pilot wanted to put a custom stars-and-stripes paint job on his F/A-18.
This isn't a matter of an authorized emblem like nose art or tail logo...it's painting the whole helmet.
Perhaps he should be allowed to do this in recognition of his service, but then it should be made a policy that allows the privilege to be earned that way. Just an entitlement to special treatment, though? No.
I can’t get to the link right now. We need to have contact infor for this chief so we can give him a piece of our mind.
Some prissy Newton queen probably was “offended” and complained.
Some Army pilots are the same.
I know of quite a few aero-scouts that wear Stetsons with numerous DUI’s (Distinctive Unit Insignia), and other pins such as mini IFOR/SFOR crests from Bosnia, etc.
Free speech/expression does not apply to employers/private workplace. The GOVERNMENT cannot take away your right to free speech. Private employers don’t have to tolerate speech or expressions of yours if they don’t want to. They have the freedom to set uniform standards and if you don’t like it, you don’t work there.
That said, the chief could have continued to make the exception instead of coming across as a ‘rules are rules’ kind of guy.
Well, I don’t think the Anti-Pinkerton Act applies anyway. :-)
It was added in the 1960s, after the plane was in private hands (the Confederate Air Force).
Gondring at comment #17 pointed out some uses of helmet and insignia color that I was not aware of.
Firefighting is dangerous work and if helmet colors are used to signify ranks/responsibilities and/or different experience and skill levels, then I’d go with the chief on this one.
I'd say screw the politics, what makes most sense?
Does black (a heat absorbing color) trump red white and blue? Is red white and blue better in terms of visibility when searching in a smoke filled environment for a colleague?
In other words, whatever makes best sense for safety.
My problem is that he’s taken three years to complain about it. I’m wondering why all of a sudden it’s an issue? That smells to me. Who complained?
Maybe he could paint it black and get some nice, reflective, patriotic decals if he must?
It's Newton. Ground zero for gay indoctrination in public schools, stamp of approval for looking at porn in the library and librarians who go out of their way to help Al-Queda.
I can guarantee you somebody whined about it.
I'm sure we can dig up plenty of WWII issue "nose art"
Only reason he is having to ditch his paint scheme is its resemblance to the Stars and Strips. Che would probably be acceptable.
Screw the Chief. I hope enough Newtonians bitch about the decision to shame the Chief into letting him wear it.
I know Richie Busa. What it doesn’t say in the article is that he is a purple heart vet of the iraq war.
The fire department is a quasi-military operation there is a chain of command, usually starting at 2nd LT, then 1st LT, then Captain, then possibly Assistant Chief(s) and Department Chief. My Department has 4 2nd LT’s, 4 1st’s, 4 Captains and 1 Chief with three Assistant Chiefs!
> The fire department is a quasi-military operation there is a chain of command, usually starting at 2nd LT, then 1st LT, then Captain, then possibly Assistant Chief(s) and Department Chief. My Department has 4 2nd LTs, 4 1sts, 4 Captains and 1 Chief with three Assistant Chiefs!
I know that it has been popular amongst some fire brigades and police departments to view themselves as “quasi-military” — particularly of late — but with due respect, aside from job titles you could be describing any hierarchical organization, including private corporations such as banks.
Aside from titles and structure, what aspect of the Fire Brigade is “quasi-military?”
It doesn’t carry weapons, it isn’t subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and it isn’t staffed by military personnel or funded by the Defense budget.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Civilian who does dangerous things, and there’s nothing even wrong with being very disciplined and maybe even structured about how things are done. I’m not convinced that directly translates into being “quasi-military” in the sense that the Fire Brigade and Police Department like to view themselves.
...Should have been done long ago. The Nation has been at war since the “Revolutionary”...
Newton is Bwarney Fwanks hometown.
I’m a volunteer fire fighter in PA
OK, I do not get any compensation for my services. A few things, in the fire service, helmet colors are used to determine the status of the firefighter. Since I’m a regular firefighter (non-officer), interior certified, my helmet is black. Juniors and probationary members have yellow helmets, line officers have red helmets and chief officers have white. Different compnies have different color schemes (our mutual aid company uses red helmets for probies), the reason is to give the officer in charge an at a glance idea of the capabilities of the man under the helmet. Try to ID a guy wearing an air pack.
Again, we are volunteer but we cannot personalize our personal protective gear at all. I’m company chaplain and I cannot put a cross sticker on my helmet. The only exception is I can put HazMat ops and vehicle rescue cert as well as EMT on my helmet and nothing on my bunker gear. I can wear my own customized flash hood as long as it is NFPA approved. I cannot remove the eye shield and replace with goggles.
The chief in Newton (as much as it pains me to say) is right. The fire service is quasi-military and being in the public eye requires uniform and professional dress appearence. The public demands it. You would be amazed how an unhappy tax payer complains about the professional service we provide using volunteer labor. It is amazing.
BYW, helmet color will not really effect temperature and NFPA rules require reflective stickers Trapezoids to visability.
Having said all that, the chief is probably a jerk.
One other thing, our helmets have our last name on the back in reflective letters. This is so we can ID our own helmets and is a source of personal pride to the men.
I think I’ll put the phone number on my speed dial for when I’m driving this afternoon.
“We manufacture nightmares”
I guess it’s how one defines quasi-military, but I do see your point...
...most fire departments I know of ARE Public workplaces. And as you just said, the government can’t tell us not to express ourselves.
Even so, public workplaces can define what is and is not part of a uniform, and what (if any) exceptions there are. The military is public but you can’t ‘express yourself’ any way you want on your uniform.
I think since the chief had allowed it in the past for this particular helmet, and the helmet hadn’t changed - but now all of a sudden the chief changes his mind, while it’s in his authority to do so, I don’t think he should have.