Friday, December 22, 2006

Digital Photograpy Raising The Bar For Firefighters

I had another thought today regarding the multiple cameras that can be found on any fire scene nowdays.

Many of these digital photos end up on websites, such as, or passed around via email. Photography now has an easy global reach, instead of the "old days" of prints that made limited circulation.

The camera has the power to document what went on. Sure, the photo doesn't tell the whole story, or neccasarily give, excuse the pun, the big picture. But it does show who's not wearing PPE when they should be or wearing it properly, it can show when we make good moves or bad, it can show when we are placing ourselves into dangerous situations uneccarily, and it can show a variety of other things that can help or hinder us, depending on our egos and willingness to want to do our jobs better.

Besides viewing photos from curiosity, or trying to second guess what went on, we should view them as a learning tool. We should also realize that we too, at anytime, can be caught on camera doing our job and become the subject of scrutiny, even if it was one second of poor judgement- even if it was corrected and the subsequent photos don't show that. I am confident that I was trained well, and take ownership in what I do. If I make a mistake, and someone has documentation of that, then I want to be able to learn from that so it doesn't happen again, possibly harming me the next time.

Regardless, this should set the bar higher, for all of us, to do our jobs properly. As I've said, I feel many people are afraid of photos, becuase their afraid of being "exposed" they do whatever they can to ban, discourage, or discredit them. But when we look at photos with an open, accepting mind, and learn from our mistakes, then digital photos and fire scene photographers can be a great asset to the firefighting community.