A LODD by any other name

It seems that a retired FDNY captain was killed on 9/11 working his new job as a fire safety guy at the WTC.  The family wants his name on the memorial with all the FDNY members killed in the attack but the City says that honor is reserved for those on active duty.  This is an ugly situation, to say the least.

Houston has a similar situation going on with a recruit who died last year after falling out during PT at the academy.  Cohnway Johnson was a paid firefighter and IAFF member before coming to work for Houston and was in their “fast track” academy for pre-certified firefighters.  The aftermath was more than ugly, with Recruit Johnson’s father banning the HFD brass from the funeral and a pissing contest over whether he would be listed in the Houston local’s memorial.  Complicating issues include the fact that academy trainees are civilians who have not yet taken an oath of office and the fact that HFD had already picked up his state commission as a structural firefighter.

I understand the imperative of preserving the dignity of the LODD ceremony and memorial wall.  There are a lot of definitions out there, some more expansive than others.  Emotions run high here; there is nothing more raw than a line-of-duty death.  Controversy is inevitable and we would do well to remember that the definition of an LODD changes over time.  An MI suffered while chopping a hole in a roof in 1925 may not have been an LODD then but definitely is today.  Likewise, a rare cancer may be considered an LODD in ten years.

It is not for us to judge any departments, locals, and memorial committees.  They have their own honor to protect and their own demons with which to wrestle.  As long as we avoid the politicization of the LODD designation I think we can leave room for disagreement knowing that we all love our brothers and sisters.

Maybe preplanning and written policies and definitions are the best bets to avert this nastiness.  I don’t know, but the NFFF does.  Please avail yourself of their assistance before you wind up hurting your brothers, sisters, and survivors because of unclear policies.

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