Editorial: Infamous Detroit firefighters photo is far cry from heroic work they do

You probably have seen the picture of Detroit firefighters posing for a group photo in front of a fully engulfed house.

The idea behind the selfie was apparently a creative way to celebrate the career of a retiring battalion chief. No one was in the house, and there are some questions whether it was vacant or under renovation but it was definitely unoccupied.

But regardless, how would you feel if property you owned burned to the ground while firefighters used it for a photo op? And beyond that, the photo has made rounds on websites across the world allowing out-of-towners to weigh-in with their comments. The optics are embarrassing for the city and anyone involved.

Just a couple of weeks ago several Detroit firefighters received a well-deserved honor for running back into a burning building to save a trapped firefighter.

And at the same event, other firefighters were recognized for their heroic service in saving a man buried alive when a trench collapsed.

On the same weekend of the infamous fire photo, another house fire - this time in an occupied home - firefighters did their job, fought the fire and everyone inside escaped alive.

For defenders of the photo…yes, the house was unoccupied, firefighters did go inside looking for people and once it was determined it was unsafe for firefighters to try to save the house, it was allowed to burn.

But Fire Commissioner Eric Jones made his point loud and clear - "There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement … and taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them." Commissioner Jones will investigate and there could be discipline.

My point is this - yes, the fire photo deserves scrutiny and showed poor judgment, but it's a far cry from what firefighters do every day - and that should not be minimized because of one foolish photo. 

And if there is a lesson in all this, in this world of social media, be smart. Think about the unintended consequences before posting something for all to see, as it may leave the headache of rebuilding a tarnished reputation.

I'm Greg Easterly and that's my 2 cents.