This Probably Isn’t the Best Idea. Firefighters Perception Vs. Reality in Social Media

I get it, some of us love being photographed while on the job. Hell, deep down inside we all would probably love to be on the cover of a magazine in a great photo while making a rescue off the balcony of a 3rd story apartment while flames lick over our heads…but that probably won’t happen. If you are lucky enough to be a firefighter in an area where there are fire buffs, you have a greater opportunity of being seen in photos or youtube videos that are shared right here on

And then there are some of us who attempt to make it happen ourselves.

I cannot speak for what is actually going on in this photo, I can only speak on what is perceived to be happening. Perception often trumps reality in situations like this.

The photo as seen on

The photo to the right was shared on, a popular site for men and women that share funny, sexy, and odd photos and video. Pictures of firefighters are a common occurrence on the site and firefighters seem to love it. I check it out a couple of times a week to see what is new.

The picture is hosted here. The whole set of images is here.

The problem with the photo is that it doesn’t paint the best picture of this firefighter, the FD of the firefighter in the photo, or the potential neglect of duties while posing for the photo.

The perception is that this firefighter stopped to take a photo during a house fire that is obviously not under control.

The reality COULD be that this is a training burn and this firefighter is not actively needed at the time, he takes a minute to have someone else snap the picture.

The truth could be something totally different.

Which one do you think it is?

My point here is not to hang this firefighter out to dry. If you think that me publishing his picture here is exposing him, I assure you that has a far larger reach than my blog.

My point is to bring attention to perception vs. reality when we are in the public view. Sharing a picture like this is potentially harmful to the firefighter, the fire department, and fire service in general. Even if it seems harmless to us, we should sit back and think about the perception that others will have of our photos and video.

We need to be a little more careful of what we are sharing online, and how we are acting on the fireground.

Carry on…

– The Fire Critic