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Dec. 13, 2011 – I observed early in my online journey that the Internet was a magnet for rabblerousers who wanted to proclaim their views from the safety of anonymity. Just visit the comment section of even a semi-controversial news story and you'll still find herds of bare knuckled, knock-em-down cyberphantom street brawlers that make Joe Fraser and Muhammed Ali look like partners in Dancing With the Stars.

December 13, 2011
By Tim Beebe

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Dec. 13, 2011 – I observed early in my online journey
that the Internet was a magnet for rabblerousers who wanted to proclaim
their views from the safety of anonymity. Just visit the comment
section of even a semi-controversial news story and you'll still find
herds of bare knuckled, knock-em-down cyberphantom street brawlers that
make Joe Fraser and Muhammed Ali look like partners in Dancing With the
Stars.

I appreciate that Canadians lean toward
politeness and tolerance in these situations. We have a similar
disposition to the Japanese mosquito, which bites like its North
American cousins, but folds its hands and says "please" first . .
. giving the intended victim time to swat before being bitten (unlike
the Japanese black fly, which is just as rudely ferocious as ours).

Perhaps this is why the online
discussions I've seen on the Meaford story haven't degenerated
into virtual fist fights of opinions. There is no lack of variance in
opinion on the matter in the fire service, but so far we have been able
to keep it civil for the most part. If there was ever a need to project a
solid, unified voice, now is the time.

Speaking of Meaford, the trial is on
hold until the presiding justice of the peace decides whether there is
enough evidence to proceed with the charges. You can read an article by
Laura King about the most recent developments
here, and an update on the Fire Fighting in Canada blog here.

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I was glad to find that I'm not the only
one to question the Ministry of Labour's choice to prosecute a fire
department for decisions made during an act of service. Defense attorney
Norman Keith said that "if emergency-service personnel, including a
firefighter, is injured because of uncontrolled or unforeseen
circumstances, it’s disturbing to think that the Ministry of Labour
might point the finger of blame" at someone who is working in the public
interest.

Unpredictability makes the
fire ground different from any other work place. We counter that
unpredictability with operational guidelines, but no one can write a
guideline that foresees every situation. Put firefighters in a dangerous
mix that includes trapped occupants, a narrow window of opportunity to
rescue them, and few resources, and the "right" choice is not simple. As
the well-known maxim goes, we have to make decisions in seconds that
others will have the luxury of picking apart over the course of years.

In my December 5, 2010 post I talk more about the part operational guidelines play at emergency scenes.

Taking a brief pause in this diatribe, Ontario Vol FF is a new blog about the Ontario volunteer fire service.
Here is a link. Knuckles, as he calls himself, offers another perspective on the volunteer service. Add this to Jennifer Mabee's blog on the Fire Fighting in Canada site, and it's good news all around. The more voices we have out there, the better.

The
down side of Canadian politeness is the danger of slipping into apathy.
We don't like to rock the boat. Without delving into the mysteries of
psychology, I think it isn't that we don't care, we just don't care
enough to stir up trouble about things that we feel are none of our
business.

I'm all about keeping our noses out of
places they don't belong, and treating our opponents with polite
civility . . . as long as they don't see our niceness as an
opportunity to slap us like a mosquito.

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