Atlanta Union Chief Says Video Cameras Hinder Firefighers

The president of the Atlanta Firefighters Union, Sgt. Stephen Borders, said that the recording device mounted inside Atlanta (GA) fire trucks interfered with a crew trying to answer an entrapment call on Saturday night.

City Hall had ordered the cameras, which monitor how employees drive.

Borders said that the flashing LED red light was a distraction for firefighters. That incident was handled safely, but Borders said critical seconds could have been lost.

The union boss told Atlanta City Council members on Monday that he had been assured by city officials that the camera program was going to be placed on hold for review. However, he said that fire chief was doing the opposite and moving forward with the program.

City officials said the cameras were installed to try to cut back on accidents. Borders said that firefighters have the safest driving records among public safety officials.

Janet Ward, the public relations manager of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, issued a statement saying, “From the point of view of the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, the Drive Cams are about one thing, and that is the safety of our firefighters. Accidents while responding to or returning from incidents claim the lives of firefighters every year.  And statistics compiled by the National Fire Protection Association do not support the idea that buckling a seatbelt or stopping for a red light poses a threat to response times. The terrible events in Houston recently remind us that our firefighters face enormous dangers every day. If we can minimize those dangers, we are determined to do so.”

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