AirTalk for August 20, 2013

Should firefighters be allowed to use helmet video cameras?

Boeing 777 Crashes At San Francisco Airport

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Images of a passenger getting run over by a fire truck released after the Asiana Airlines crash has led fire officials in San Francisco to question whether or not firefighters should use helmet cameras.

Over the weekend, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White banned firefighters in the city from using of helmet cameras. The move came after footage taken by a firefighter’s helmet camera after the Asiana Airlines crash became public. The images showed a fire truck running over a Chinese girl at the scene of the crash in San Francisco. The San Francisco Chronicle published stills from the footage.

Yesterday, officials at the San Francisco Fire Department backtracked on the decree and said they will revisit the issue. Cities like Baltimore and Houston have a firefighter helmet cameras ban in place, as do the Los Angeles City Fire Department and the County of Los Angeles Fire Department. Proponents of the ban say the use of helmet cameras and dissemination of the images violate the privacy rights of victims and firefighters. But some firefighters contend that these cameras don’t just make an useful training tool, they save lives.

"The department seems more concerned with exposure and liability than training and improving efficiency," San Francisco Battalion Chief and president of the employee group, the Black Firefighters Association Kevin Smith, told the San Francisco Chronicle. "Helmet cams are the wave of the future - they can be used to improve communication at incidents between firefighters and commanders.”

Guests:

Kevin Smith, battalion chief of San Francisco fire department and president of the San Francisco Black Firefighters Association

Inspector Keith Mora, Public Information Officer for the Los Angeles County Fire Department


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