Pa. commissioners ban firefighters' helmet cams

The ordinance states that firefighters who continue to use helmet cams will lose their right to serve the township as firefighters


NORTH VERSAILLES, Pa. — In a 3-to-2 vote, township officials passed a new ordinance banning firefighters from making audio and video recordings fighting fires.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that helmet cams will no longer be allowed in North Versailles. The ordinance states that firefighters who continue to use helmet cams will lose their right to serve the township as firefighters, according to the report.

Commissioner Russell Saula said firefighters filming something of a private nature could expose the township to liability, according to the report.

During the meeting, Paul Saula, a retired firefighter, former township commissioner and brother of Commissioner Russell Saula, said the helmet cams have already been used in a way they shouldn’t have, according to the report.

A member of the fire department in North Versailles, using a helmet cam, video and audiotaped West Wilmerding Fire Chief Dan Duncan at a recent fire saying he had had a drink, and wasn’t in command of the fire scene, Paul Saula said to Post-Gazette reporters. Saula said the firefighters were trying to get Chief Duncan in trouble, but didn’t realize the fire was just across the street from his house, according to the report.

“I don’t want somebody coming in my house and filming … my wife might be in her negligee,” Russell Saula said after the meeting. “Who knows where these tapes are going afterward?” 

After the meeting, Commissioner George Beswick said he believes the cameras can provide safety.

“Down the road, if someone would get hurt, at least we would know what occurred and why,” he said. 

Commission President George Thompson said after the meeting that he doesn’t like anyone sneaking around videotaping people. “It’s creepy,” he said.

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