Post Assigns Witless Reporter
Prince George’s County, Maryland, is infamous for any number of things including what passes for a fire department in a metropolitan county of just under 900,000 people.
The PGFD is mostly known by regular folks from what they read in the press: endless stories of tit-for-tat spats in the firehouse between volunteers and career firefighters interspersed with fire scene brawls when they take the show on the road.
Firefighters are slightly more likely to pay attention to the constant stories of apparatus accidents and burn injuries.
In a gift straight from Santa, the Washington Post parachuted a clueless reporter into the special world of 33’s to spend a Christmas day with Santa’s fire elves.
Packed into one article is every sappy cliche ever written about firefighters, complete with “A Christmas Story” playing in the background.
But don’t be fooled: the Kentland “brotherhood” are very media savvy. According to the Post, 33’s “Web site gets 60,000 hits a day, and buffs follow its two Twitter accounts and Facebook page, which include routine updates…” They are on a mission and they are also on their public relations game.
In the rather bizarre world of Prince Georges County where the FBI works overtime wiretapping and prosecuting elected officials, 33 fits in nicely. They are “100% volunteer 100% of the time!” Whether that’s a good thing is debatable.
Washington, DC, with which Prince George’s shares a border, is substantially smaller. Its population is right around 600,000 yet it employs well over 1,000 firefighters in all of its 33 stations. Ironically, not a few of these firefighters then travel to PG county where they “protect” the community by volunteering in a fire environment that is more urban than many parts of DC. In fact, the Post story references off-duty firefighters from DC and Baltimore County making up the crew.
Let’s be professionally honest: few things are more bizarre than a career firefighter leaving his urban job to go serve at his “all volunteer” urban fire house. Would the two firefighters mentioned in the article be OK with DC or Baltimore County citizens coming in while they were at work and telling them they were no longer needed? (I think we know the answer to that question.) Imagine the crew at DCFD Rescue Squad 1 or Truck 13 being bumped by off-work congressional pages. Weird, but that is exactly what is happening in PG.
The Post’s irresponsibility here is inexplicable. We can only hope that the starry-eyed reporter walked away with a belly full of that “pork roll, scrapple and bacon” because she sure came away empty where critical reporting is concerned.