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Fireman faces punishment for risking his life in rescue

By Chris V. Thangham     Mar 26, 2007 in World
Fireman saves a girl's life but faces disciplinary actions from his superiors.
A fireman is facing disciplinary action after plunging into a river to rescue a drowning woman. Tam Brown, 42, is the subject of an internal investigation by Tayside Fire and Rescue because he breached safety rules during the rescue in the River Tay in Perth.
Tam Brown is a veteran of 15 years experience in Tayside Fire and Rescue. The unidentified woman try to commit suicide by jumping into the river. One of the bystanders called the emergency and Tam Brown and his company came to rescue her. They threw a rope at her. Because of high currents in the river started dragging her deeply into the waters. Tam Brown with limited equipment jumped into the river with a harness in hand. Tam was able to grab her with the current going strong, the rope that connected them to the shore broke when they were pulled, some how managed to bring her to the shores. Thus he saved her and was hailed as a hero by the young woman's family but he was reprimanded by his officers that he broke the fire brigade's "Standing Instructions" on safety procedures.
According to the standard instructions, “Personnel should not enter the water.” The fire crew should instead have tried to haul the woman out using poles and ropes.
He said yesterday: “I was expected to watch that young girl die in front of me. As a father and a caring human being, I couldn’t live with myself if I’d had to do that.”
Since many drowning victims have little time to save them, most of them die before the emergency crew comes in. So Tam knowing this and finding the girl almost unconscious, didn't want to waste any more time, instead acted on his hunch and saved this girl.
Stephen Hunter, the Chief Fire Officer of Tayside Fire and Rescue, reviewing the case admits that the fire engines in Perth are not equipped with rescue tools like poles and ropes, but still insists he broke the rules. He said “Firefighter safety is of paramount importance to us. Although our duties include rescues from flooding, there is no statutory obligation to carry out rescues from moving water."
He insists that Tam Brown and the crew broke these standard procedures and will investigate more and take disciplinary actions.
Steve Hill, chairman of the Perth branch of the Fire Brigades Union, was supportive of Tam Brown said no one senior officer congratulated Tam or other officers for saving the girl. These officers should be happy that they saved a life instead are feeling bad about the disciplinary actions. According to the rules if an officer contradicts a rule they may be dismissed. Steve Hill said, if Tam hadn't gone into the waters, some of the public who were watching this incident might have jumped into the waters, instead of one death, they might have seen more dead.
I hope the Chief Fire Officer changes his mind and does the right thing in not punishing the Officer. But some are rules conscious, we have to wait and see what happens to the brave Fireman.
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