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It was just before 1:00 am early one Friday when Atlanta firefighters were called to the home of 94-year-old Sally Skrine. She was well-known in the community as a generous woman who was always willing to give out food to anyone who needed it.

It took just seven minutes to get to her house after the call came in, but the fire was already raging by the time they arrived.

Firefighters found burglar bars on every door and window of Skrine’s home making it a challenge to get in. But they believed a person was trapped inside.

Twenty-year veteran Capt. Danny Dwyer was already wearing his protective gear when Chief Sean Johnson ordered Dwyer and his truck mates to do a search inside the burning house.


Dwyer knew every second mattered.


Instead of waiting for his two truck mates to finish suiting up, Dwyer crawled inside with two firefighters from a different fire engine who were manning a hose.

Amidst toxic, churning smoke, Dwyer found Skrine on the dining room floor. In an instant, the interior of the home was completely engulfed in flames. Dwyer leaned over her unconscious body to protect her and then managed to tug her out the door onto the porch.

But it was too late. Sally Skrine succumbed at the scene.

Most of us would see Capt. Dwyer as a hero, risking his own life to try and save Sally Skrine’s. Incredibly, that’s not what his bosses thought.

After the incident, Dwyer was written up by superiors for not waiting for the rest of his crew before going in. It’s called “freelancing.”
And that is not allowed.

Instead of receiving a medal, Dwyer will spend two shifts at home without pay. And will have this infraction noted on his permanent record.

How is it that what appears to be selfless service is frowned upon?


As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports it, Department rules state Superiors “must look at all incidents from a perspective of risk vs. benefit. Always placing the safety of our members as the highest priority.”

Several firefighters spoke to the AJC about an increasingly “risk-averse culture,” often mandated by chiefs safely tucked away in offices.


Sound familiar? Firefighters often need to make life or death decisions in an instant, literally in the heat of the moment.

Just like our warfighters.

When the adrenaline is pumping, and seconds count, it doesn’t seem like firefighters should be considering the career ramifications of trying to save people trapped inside a raging inferno.


After all, if firefighters ever get called out to your gran’s house at one in the morning, what do you want them to be thinking about?


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29 Responses

  1. Jim

    I HAVE gone into a burning building three times to try and rescue people but unfortunately both had already passed from smoke. The other time nobody’s home even though neighbors were adamant they were. I hated it but there were possible lives to save and even though I was not a Firefighter I was a Police Officer and I was sworn to save lives whenever possible and the firefighters were not there yet. This Capt. IS a Hero IMHO as he was wearing the proper gear and had 2 brothers with a hose backing him.

  2. Bryan S.

    At the end of the day, we are paid to do a job and RISK comes with that job. If you are not prepared to risk everything, then go away, Chief officers are now chiefs because many of them took the right classes, not because they can do the job the RIGHT way.

  3. Steve

    I wonder if the rest of his company was written up or reprimanded for not being ready to go in with him. Where the heck were they?

    • James

      Probably not as shit rolls up hill. However, in this ever increasing snowflake service, you will see alot more of these asinine actions taken. Chiefs are younger and book smart… THATS ALL. For a seasoned veteran to be reprimanded is a reason to retire even tho you love the job. My situation in 2015

  4. L

    Go back and re read the story, he went in alone. The other 2 were not suited up yet when he went in. Is that protocol?

  5. ken

    welcome to the pc world! this is what happens with collectivism. individual initiative is stifled for group think.

  6. James Paine

    Anybody that has not been in the fire service has ZERO room to judge this situation. This firefighter did a great and heroic thing. However, he put himself and other firefighters in danger, for a victim that probably was not viable (firefighters are trained in risk vs. reward!). I wasn’t there, and I don’t know what the scene looked like, but his actions, heroic as they may have been, require a response from administration. Chances are that the Chiefs sitting in their chairs, made Chief based on knowledge, experience and wisdom. No Chief wants to make a death notification to one (or several) of his firefighters wives, children, parents or families. There is a much bigger picture than just the firefighters heroic actions.

    • Johnny fire

      They made chief because they all went to school together. You couldn’t melt then turn around and pour most of these chiefs into a burning building. He capt did the right thing end of story.

    • Charle

      I understand, however he went in with 2 other firefighters manning a hose. Logically that’s not alone. Truck mate should be ready when they pull up to a scene. Maybe you are not looking at the whole scene. I am not a firefighter and I don’t think he was trying to be a hero I think he was trying to be sensible in a very difficult situation. Time is crucial. Cannot wait for mates taking extra 10 minutes to put on their protective gear. What protocol training did they have. I guess let the house and everything in it burn while you wait till truck mates get ready. But if fighter 2 not bothered by it than maybe we shouldn’t be.

  7. Matt

    To the people that are against the punishment(weather harsh or not) how many of you are fire personnel? How many of you have been in a burning building engulfed with smoke and fire? There are protocols for a reason. No the 2 men on the nossel were not with him. Weather they went in together or not. The FFs with the hose have a job. Not to mention did the Captains crew know where he went? Who watch him in the fire while the other 2 were putting out the flames? I’m not saying I wouldnt have done the same thing and I’m not a FF anymore, but they have protocols in there for a reason. What if he got turned around in the room or got caught up by something and died in the flames, Its happened. Then there would be a dead hero and possible fatherless kids, a widowed wife.

  8. Laurie

    Sad to hear that this hero is getting reprimanded for doing the right thing when only few would risk their life for another. Not only should he not have this on his permanent record, he should be given time off with pay to recover after all the stress that (I’m sure) this has taken on him.

  9. James R. Everitt

    That is stupidity on the department. This man had back-up. He had 2 people from another fire engine accompany him. If this is the kind of stupid action taken against a man who “did his job” … whoever wrote him up should be fired. I’m really sick and tired of “politically correct”. Get over it morons!

    • Russ Hatch

      “risk-averse culture…life or death decisions in an instant…like our warfighters…if firefighters ever get called out to your gran’s house…”

      Nailed it.

      Thanks guys!

  10. Tonya W Davis

    It’s sounds bad, but at the end of the day you want everyone to come home safe if you are the leader. Working with your team is the best you can do for them. He could have been statistic instead an almost hero.

  11. Scott

    At the end of the day no one was hurt or killed on the department. A slap on the wrist would do. Had he gone in and saved the woman things would be different i hope. Look up the story of the Lieutenant that pushed his coworker out the second story of a burning building in Worcester Ma this past November. Lt. Jason Menard, He unfortunately did not make it. Are you gna tarnish his name or make him a hero. He is a hero in my book, Right or Wrong. All these people are hero’s wether they make it out or not. Takes balls to go into a blazing building.

    • Red

      Fact is he wasn’t freelancing at all, he did not go in alone he took 2 people from another engine with him who were already ready to go in. So a slap on the wrist as you call it is not warranted what so ever.

      • Matthew Blatti

        A engine company going in with a hose is not a search and rescue team. The 2 men with the hose have a job to do. The 2nd man should not be put in a position to back up the man on the hose and keep tabs on the search and rescue guy. It turned out ok this time, but what about next. 2 days without pay is still kinda harsh though, but maybe he has a history of it. I dont know and either does anyone who’s not on with him.

  12. Vette Monroe

    I think this is bull**** I wish I knew how I would start a go fund me account to make up for his lost pay. If someone will let me know I will help

  13. Gary Williams

    That’s a damn shame!
    What is our country coming to when a man risks his life to save another?
    So very sad.


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