“But I’m a Fireman!”

Oh, no he didn’t!

Yes. Yes, he did.
Let’s revisit professional courtesy for a moment, shall we? Listen, I believe in it. Just like all the other LEO blogs you read. Have I been on the receiving end of it? Yup. Have I given it? Yup. Is it as simple as that? Nope.
I’m not going to delve into how I “got out of a ticket” or why I let others slide. The fact is it happens. Do I “offset” it by giving warning to regular citizens? Sure, if it makes you feel better. As a matter of course, though, I can tell you that I give regular citizens breaks every now and then regardless of how many “professional courtesy” stops I make. Again, folks, it’s all about attitude.
Read that last line again. See that last word, “attitude”? Well this guy started to have one and I showed him the error of his ways….
MC: Do you know why I stopped you?
UFF: I think I was going to fast?
MC: Yeah, but it’s not the end of the world (standard line, by the by). Do you have your license, registration, and insurance with you today?
UFF: Sure. (He grabs the appropriate documents and hands them over. I saw him put some kind of ID card on the center console real subtle like, but he never mentioned it.)
MC: Okay, hang tight, I’ll be right back.
So, I walked back to the bike and started running him out. I started to scratch out the ticket when I see him get out of his truck (should have been a clue, you fire-eaters love you some trucks).
UFF (sees me writing a ticket…throws up his hands in general frustration/irritation): But, I’m a firefighter!
MC (seeing an opportunity to educate a relatively younger member of this, our Public Service): Come here. (Said with just a hint of “I don’t give a shit who you are”). Let me explain something to you. I’m all for professional courtesy, but here’s the thing…it’s that last word, courtesy. Do you think you’re acting either courteous or professional right now?
UFF (Uneducated Fire Fighter): No
MC: Just because you happen to be a firefighter isn’t an automatic pass for a violation. As a matter of fact, you should know better because you see the results of speeding vehicles first hand!
UFF: Yeah. I was just…
MC: Hey! I’m not done lecturing you. If I’m going to give you a warning, you better believe you’re getting a lecture.
UFF: Sorry.
MC: The point here is that professional courtesy means that you have the proper attitude, take responsibility for your actions and are at least minimally polite! You have done none of those things! Do you think jumping out of your truck, throwing your hands up and yelling out, “But I’m a firefighter!” makes you look like a responsible adult or a demanding child? You should know better, don’t you think?
UFF (genuinely subdued and appearing remorseful): You’re right. I apologize.
So, I let him off with a warning. Now, before some of you get your panties in a bunch, you should know that I’ve had very similar conversations with regular citizens. Every once in a while, my job entails education. Often times, that education includes a lecture. Odds are that if I lecture you, you won’t get a ticket…depending on your attitude! Don’t forget that firefighters, EMS, and cops are people as well. Look beyond the badge, the patches, the guns, the medical bags. We fuck up, too. It happens…
And for those of you behind the badge, the patches, the guns, and the medical bags…I think it’d be good to remember how you want to be treated at a traffic stop, detail, and/or medical emergency. Go into each of them thinking about that and I’ll just bet it’ll be smoother sailing.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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12 thoughts on ““But I’m a Fireman!”

  1. Nicely handled. I'm a civvie, but I don't mind professional curtsey, as long as it doesn't slide into ignoring reckless or dangerous behavior. And thank you for handing out attitude adjustments. I hope a cop would call me on it if I were being rude (though I'm more likely to cry, despite my best efforts to keep cool).

  2. I couldn't agree more MC. Professional courtesy is just that–courtesy, and it goes both ways. If I stop you and you are a cop, fireman, military or whatever, I will be professional and courteous to you, just like I am to everyone. I don't expect a "I'm privileged" aura off of you in return. I expect a polite, CONTRITE, dare I say EMBARRASSED person because it's your ass I pulled over because YOU were driving like a dumbass! I've never written one yet, but don't think I can. Thankfully, all the ones I have stopped so far have been that way for the most part, the ones that were not, well they got a lecture from me too just like MC's. And if they push it far enough, jerk my chain hard enough, they'll be getting a citation. I also expect a sincere "thank you" when I hand your license back to you!

  3. Love this post

    one: because it gives great insight to a world us civilians don't see.

    two: because I work for the school district and was going 32 on a road I thought was about 25 or 30. Turns out that road is 20 miles an hour. When I got waved over by the officer that was smartly out of his car gunning from a round about, I genuinely thought he was going to tell me that road was closed ahead because of a situation. He didn't even ID me in my district van but he did tell me I needed to slow down twice, very calmly and with authority.

    I am not in a hurry on my job, the longer it takes me to get from point A to point B is better for me. I love my city and would never want to break the laws of this city especially in a district work van.

    I was very thankful the officer let me off with a warning. I try to be above reproach on the streets on the clock and that day I was not. He did his job, and I have to say I was lil embarrassed, but his warning was a good reminder to watch my ass.

    Thanks officer for letting me off that time.

  4. I have to agree..and unfortunately, I've been on the receiving end of professional courtesy more than I probably deserve just due to what I do and knowing most of the officers from the various agencies. Luckily, I have a conscience and after the third such incident (different officer, different agency) I learned my lesson and followed the speed limit just like any good civilian should. Sadly, not very many people whether they are Emergency service or not feel they are entitled to simple warnings.

  5. I second what Melissa said. I understand professional courtesy. And as long as they aren't displaying reckless behavior…

    I wouldn't charge any of the girls I work with to do their hair. And likewise, I don't pay for mine either. Same thing.

  6. My DH is having a run in with "professional courtesy" right now! He pulled over someone doing something VERY stupid, and was immediately told, "it's ok, my husband is a cop!"(the husband was in the passenger seat) and when he continued to write the ticket, got SEVERE attitude from the driver and all the passengers (including the husband) My DH got to listen to them all whine and cry about "brotherhood" and "have a heart" and "you are such a jerk to be writing this ticket!"
    Fast forward three weeks, and now he was informed by a guy from his department, that this particular "brother" has gotten his buddies together and declared war on my DH's Department. The reason he got the message delivered to him was because the guy who was called initially didn't have our home phone number. (yup these wonderful guys were going to call MY house and issue the THREAT personally!)
    So, he went to his superiors, and the Crap will be hitting the fan very soon! These little weasels are going to get a earful and possibly a good smack down from Their Superiors.

    Professional courtesy my rear end!

  7. Do you extend the professional courtesy to ER nurses? Just curious since I am one! We certainly work hard to get you guys patched back up and back out of the ER when possible. I so appreciate all you do and know the ass holes you deal with all the time….just in helping us in the ER! Thanks again for serving and protecting and hopefully letting a nurse that is polite get a lecture occasionally instead of a ticket!

  8. Funny I thought I was the only one who noticed firemen love jacked up trucks. And the younger they are, the more jacked the truck. And the faster they drive. And stickers.They LOVE stickers.
    I don't have a problem with a cop who lets another cop go, or caught DUI, maybe has someone called to pick him up instead of arresting them. No great love of cops but I understand.
    But that swings both ways. Cops who are found guilty of a serious crime should get max punishment as a matter of course. And I do mean max.
    As I drive with robotic perfection and am the very epitome of safe driving, I won't likely get a chance to interface with ya MC. But if you pull over a guy and he tries to tell you a dirty joke about a pirate…try to at least smile while your writing me up, I mean him.

  9. I've been the recipient of professional courtesy and I'll tell you, it's great that some out there are willing to cut breaks as long as the 'recipient' isn't an a**.

    I've never asked for it, I've always been courteous, always been respectful. 99.9% of the time I'm armed, so that right there gives the officer/trooper and I something to start with. Before they even say anything (usually), I have my hands on the steering wheel, all internal lights on, all external lights off, vehicle off, keys on roof and windows down. Before letting the officer get too far into the 'speech' I inform them I'm armed, where it is, what it is, if it's loaded (duh, yeah, it is) and that I've got a permit. From there it's usually either go ahead and step out of the car or go ahead and get your wallet/id, etc (depending on where I'm carrying).

    There's an officer in one town that I drive through quite frequently at night and guaranteed I get pulled over at least 2 or three times a week. Not because of speeding, but because of a license plate light issue. I've put a new bulb in several times, had it in the shop and no one can tell me why it keeps burning out. It's non-ticket-able but he still pulls me over. Something about catching people that have been drinking or doing other illegal activities that way. After the first few times we started to get to know each other.

    Now, he doesn't even bother unless there's speeding or something else involved because he's aware of the issue and it's a waste of his time as much as mine.

    Because of the way I acted in the beginning, is why now he doesn't pull me over for it any more.

    Great read here MC, I do enjoy the blog.

  10. i have a hard time groveling to get out of a ticket. it feels strange to not put my hand up and admit that it was my bad.