Slowly but surely fire departments are being turned into surveillance centers all in the name of public safety.
“It protects the employee and the employer,” said Don Luis, chief of the Middletown Fire Department.
Fire departments are installing surveillance cameras, card swipe terminals and pushbutton combination locks to allegedly deter firefighters from having sex in firehouses, dealing drugs, or committing crimes in their buildings.
In Iowa they claim surveillance cameras and pushbutton combination locks will deter break-ins and vandalism.
“It’s an unfortunate reality that firehouses are a common target of break-ins, and critical equipment can be stolen or vandalized,” said Robbie Rock, West Liberty Fire Chief.
Does anyone really believe that firehouses need surveillance cameras to protect the public?
Liberty Communications hopes we do.
“We had actually decided to install an independent security system for the firehouse when I learned that the City of West Liberty had selected an access control and surveillance service package provided by Liberty Communications for City Hall and the police station,” Robbie Rock, West Liberty Fire Chief.
Clear2There and Liberty Communications are working together to put surveillance cameras in public schools, hospitals, and firehouses.
Politicians also want the public to believe that turning firehouses into surveillance centers is prudent.
According to the Times Herald Record, Middletown, NY Mayor Joe DeStefano said, “these are prudent, realistic measures that we are taking.”
In Spotsylvania County, Virginia, Chairman Timothy McLaughlin called firehouse surveillance cameras “a good idea and said, I don’t think this is a stretch to put security cameras in a public building that has narcotics and high-dollar value equipment.”
In Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey, Northeast Remote Surveillance and Alarm LLC claims surveillance cameras are information gathering devices,
“information is knowledge, when an event occurs you can never have too much information”.
None of these excuses are valid reasons for turning firehouses into surveillance centers.
A 2018 article in Fire Rescue 1 warns that putting surveillance cameras in firehouses is a bad idea.
“For the vast majority that have never engaged in such activity, cameras may seem like a waste of money and an intrusive way of putting everyone under suspicion for the actions of a few.”
The Times Herald Record also revealed that politicians are using these excuses as so they can install surveillance cameras in every municipal building.
“Security improvements won’t be confined to the firehouses, DeStefano said. He said by the end of the year, a plan should be in place to have recording systems and card-swipe access at all municipal buildings.”
In New York, the Long Islander News revealed that firehouse surveillance cameras, “will help the police department keep tabs on each corner of the village.”
As I mentioned earlier, there is no excuse for turning firehouses and municipal buildings into surveillance centers. We must stop the spread of public surveillance before we find ourselves living in a mirror-image of China or the UK.