The New Year is a time for celebration.
But context is everything—especially when you're smiling for a photo in front of a burning building instead of putting it out.
A group of firefighters in Detroit are receiving criticism online for a photo, posted to a Facebook page titled Detroit Fire Incidents Page, which shows the group posing, happy, in front of a burning house.
"Crews take a moment to get a selfie on New Years!"
Detroit Fire Commissioner Eric Jones denounced the "inappropriate and unprofessional" photo, saying:
"There are a lot of ways to celebrate a retirement. Taking a photo in front of a building fire is not one of them."
A shocking photo of 18 smiling Detroit firefighters posing in front of a burning house is now being investigated. 😯… https://t.co/OUJmIXf5k5— New York Daily News (@New York Daily News)1577988132.0
The Commissioner continued:
"Ninety-nine percent of the men and women who go to a scene like that and know what to do. Behind every fire is a devastated family or property owner."
@CNN Maybe it's dangerous to rush into it. but please don't take photo of the firing house— maple leaf (@maple leaf)1577968504.0
WXYZ reports, however, that the house the firefighters were posing in front of was vacant at the time, as was the house next door, leading some to think the image may have been of a controlled burn.
The day after the photo was taken, it was removed from Facebook because "[the page] received messages by guys on the job stating that they had been threatened for the photo being posted."
@CNN These firefighters & people like them have no sense as to what is appropriate behavior at work; a failure part… https://t.co/8fCgHIEpu2— RabbitWatch 🇺🇲 ADOS (@RabbitWatch 🇺🇲 ADOS)1577972005.0
Many people online were critical of the firefighters, some even calling for their termination.
@CNN Seriously! Even if the place couldn’t be saved...at least show that you care! What is going on in America??? I— Amanda McWilliam (@Amanda McWilliam)1577968143.0
@NYDailyNews a home is just as important as a family. memories, keepsakes and dreams lived there. it was someones l… https://t.co/LQILS71Qqr— *Bl4kk4t (@*Bl4kk4t)1578001155.0
Others, meanwhile, felt the blowback was an internet overreaction.
@m3bl4kk4t @NYDailyNews Many of the downtown homes are no longer filled with anything. They have been abandoned for… https://t.co/JE2GGMS871— IceEmpress66 (@IceEmpress66)1578004879.0
@NYDailyNews I have no doubt that this was done safely and the structure was a loss before they did it, it looks fu… https://t.co/KELfDhPGhN— Flaming Olives Matter Too (@Flaming Olives Matter Too)1578011492.0
@CBSNews There’s a whole documentary called “BURN that is all about letting vacant buildings in Detroit burn instea… https://t.co/r50xN5Qc1x— MRB (@MRB)1578011014.0
Of course, the truth is most likely somewhere in between the two extremes.
The situation was likely safe, though the photo may still have been in bad taste.
@CNN Controlled burn. Use to watch them all the time as a kid, my dad was a firefighter. I agree though that the photo is inappropriate.— Brenda#Vote💙 (@Brenda#Vote💙)1577971272.0
Remember to celebrate your New Year responsibly, perhaps at a party or with friends, but not in front of a burning building if at all possible.