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Question from a cop to Firefighter/EMS

Discussion in 'Firefighter/EMS Talk' started by Texas Raider, Jan 10, 2007.

  1. Texas Raider

    Texas Raider

    Oct 25, 2005
    In the 210
    Contagious Ideal posted in Cop Talk about an incident in his/her neighborhood and remarked as to how his/her uniform could be mistaken for a police uniform. (I apologize Contagious Ideal for not knowing your gender)

    My question is this... do your uniforms ever make you feel like you could be mistaken for police?

    I know that when in your bunker gear you look like firefighters. What about your regular uniform? Is this an issue for anyone?

    In my city the police respond to all EMS/Fire calls to assist. This was started years ago when EMS was sent to a call for a sick party down and discovered the reason for his illness was a .22 caliber bullet in the cranium.

    In my city it is not a real issue but in a major city I can see where you would not want to be misidentified. (since they won't let you carry personal protection weapons)

    I was just curious about this. Sorry if this is a dead horse topic, I don't get here much. guys and gals rock and I appreciate you.

    edited to add that while my location is San Antonio that is not where I work.
  2. FlaFF


    Jan 7, 2005
    Yes, it does happen. My dept requires us to wear our badge on our belt, and combined with the BDU's it could lead some to believe we are LEO.

    I KNOW it happens when we do walk-throughs on buildings in construction, and the workers all seem to scatter when they see us coming. Even heard a few yell "immigracion, immagracion" as they're retreating.


  3. nam02G

    nam02G First throwing ax bullseye.

    Feb 4, 2002
    Vancouver USA
    Not an issue in my area. Most fire departments around here have Navy Blue uniforms. The county Sheriffs uniforms are a butt ugly brown. City police and state patrol do have Navy Bue also but have so many shiny accessories, not just the badge, that it is easy to tell us apart.
  4. FirNaTine


    May 20, 2006
    Sometimes. Where I work both fire/EMS and police were light blue shirts with silver name tags, and collar insignia over navy pants. The cops uniform shirts are somewhat darker but to a casual observer there can be confusion. The only obvious difference in low light is the gun belt or lack there of.

    Our field personnel uniform regs require us to not wear our badge, however staff/administrative positions have to wear it. They also have to wear long sleeves and a tie October to April which adds to the confusion, as when most peope see that type of uniform/tie/badge they tend to think cop.

    I have been mistaken for a cop numerous times. I actually understand how irritating the "Behave or the cop will arrest you," from parent to unruly child when waliking in public gets.

    Luckily being mistaken has yet to lead to a violent encounter. However, frequently drunks make the mistake and I know one day they may be an issue. I have only had a few violent attacks, and as far as I know they didn't know what planet they were on let alone who I was.

    In my world, we would wear polos with our info on them.
  5. It's happened to me quite a bit. We are issued Blauer coats for winter wear that has the badge and patch on it. It is actually a police officers coat as it has the side zippers for a sidearm. I USED to wear it when I would shop before or after my shift began and got many rude comments and looks directed towards me. I usually don't shop before or after work now.
    We are now allowed to wear a sweatshirt and some people still mistake us for police officers.
    This reminds me of an article in one of the trade magazines after the Columbine shooting. The author of the article said when the FD responds to a school shooting they should remove their button down shirt and just wear their t shirt so they won't be mistaken for a police officer and therfore won't get shot. I got a laugh out of that one.
  6. ffemt596


    Jan 10, 2007
    I think if you wear what I call a "Bat Belt" with a bunch of equipment (usually new folks who think they need everything the jump bag already has around their waste) folks think you might be a cop. I have been confused as one a couple of times. I often wear my helmet to let folks know I am not, particularly if I am the first officer in charge on any scene.
  7. freshmeat


    Apr 6, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    Most of us wear brushpants; big navy clown looking things made of nomex w/ reflective stripes on the leg cuffs....looking nothing like the Po-Po:)
  8. 4095fanatic


    Oct 12, 2006
    Happens all the time... I once got mistaken in the Circuit Court House for a cop by one of the clerks, if that tells you how similar we dress... and it sucks. One reason why on "special events" such as standbys at rock concerts we're told to dress "casual duty uniform" i.e. t-shirts and what not; we used to have doped up drunks slugging us all the time thinking we were cops trying to arrest them, not EMTs trying to help them. Also, it's what I call the "dark bar syndrome". In a dark bar, if you just punched/stabbed/shot someone and you see someone in a uniform with a radio blaring coming at you, is your first reaction going to be "hmm... that's Fire Dispatch, not police 10 codes, I think those are EMTs", or is it going to be "Oh $(*$ they're coming for me!". Usually in situations like that we park down the street and let the police secure the scene before we go in. It isn't always perfect (we had a sniper take a potshot at us from a hundred yards away or so... no way the police could have known he was in hiding), but that led to a policy of "cautious discretion" when police secure the immediate vicinity but don't find the shooter.

    In some of the more violent areas, volunteer companies have allowed their members who are LEOs to carry their duty weapons concealed... not extremely widespread, however.
  9. freshmeat


    Apr 6, 2005
    Phoenix, AZ
    I'm litterally sitting in a room full of medics and E's right now, and not one of us have even been mistaken for the police; one dude just said he'd been mistaken for a Best Buy employee.LOL In my personal experiance its been quite the opposite...I pretty much allways work in really bad areas and I feel more safe on duty and unarmed than I ever feel off. Even gangbangers go out of thier way (knock on wood!!!!) to be respectful to us. Whereas I have seen them answer any question I ask then flip chanels and go off on the cops. I really do think we're pretty recognizable as non-LEO
  10. DanV1317

    DanV1317 GlockMeBeutiful

    Aug 30, 2004
    I work EMS. We have to wear those eplet things and a very nice uniform. Shirts tucked in, nice belts, nice shirts and everything. A couple patients have said, are you a police officer? Before they saw the name of the ambulance company on my eplet.

    Worries me sometimes. That's why you request PD to odd sounding calls and you stage out when they tell you to stage out. And stage out doesn't mean outside the house. It means down the street or down two streets.
  11. faceplant


    Feb 8, 2006
    We are always mistaken for cops. Uniforms are the same except for gun belt. We used to have polo shirts which helped a little. Nothing bad has come from it but I would rather not look like a cop.
  12. Texas Raider

    Texas Raider

    Oct 25, 2005
    In the 210
    Thanks for the replies, I was curious about that having once worked in a major city where the firemen got bottles and bricks thrown at them just like us.

    On the topic of staging...that is common here for assault / suicide calls. Park the bus down the street until we get things under control.

    Last summer our EMS got dispatched to a call before we did. I don't know how or why it happened except that the dispatcher was new. If I had not been scanning the radio I would have not heard the original call.

    Man with a gun / suicidal. EMS goes en route. I go en route even though dispatch has not called us.
    I get on the radio and advise that I copy direct and am en route and the dispatcher does not snap to the fact that she just sent EMS to a man with a gun call.

    Turned out okay, I found the guy in the front yard on the cell phone. Had my weapon at low ready and asked him if he was armed. His eyes got real big and he said no.

    Non issue. Girlfriend called it in yadda yadda.

    I was joking with the EMS guys later that I would just keep sending firemen in until the guy ran out of ammo.

    EMS saved my life years ago, I try to take care of our people here.
  13. mreed911

    mreed911 Kool-Aid

    Dec 15, 2002
    Central Texas

    I'm a paramedic and a cop - a cop full time, a paramedic part-time (with some TacMed involvement).

    When on patrol I monitor EMS dispatch. I show up on calls "just to check by." And I try to follow units when I can so I can write tickets to the morons who can't figure out that the blinkey-lights are not on the ambulance for their enjoyment, that they actually need to get out of the way. Those usually end up as extended stops... lots of learning to do with those drivers.

    Medics - stop by and chat with your local police now and then. Most of them have no clue what you do, when you work, etc. and are afraid to show up on your scenes for fear it's gonna be like ER and they'll be knee deep in blood and guts. Let them know they can check by, say hello, and that you appreciate it! That'll increase their comfort level (and usually looks good on their stats, if the department tracks stuff like that). It CERTAINLY looks good to the public when the police, typically the *bad guy*, shows up to help when their relative is having whatever medical emergency they're having that day.

    Mike :)
  14. shortsleeve

    shortsleeve Ladies Man

    Oct 18, 2005
    Next to Hoffa!
    We were always confused with Correction Officers not LEO's. It was quite interesting walking into some homes and someone would say why are CO's in my f------ house.
  15. D25

    D25 The Quick

    Jan 26, 2003
    I do look like a cop when I'm in uniform. Not any of the cops around here, but a general cop from somewhere USA- badge, button up shirt with epaulettes and a radio. I really don't like it- it's going to get someone killed one of these days. Although, as others have pointed out, in most violent or potentially violent situations the "patient" is striking out at everything, not just badges.

    Just to play Devil's Advocate, there are situations where looking good has its advantages. I'm not saying looking like a cop, but having a clean and pressed uniform shirt, clean shaven, shined boots, etc. It helps when you need to be persuasive or project authority for whatever reason.

    I think a polo shirt is the best of both worlds though.:thumbsup:
  16. Cheez5000

    Cheez5000 Riding is FUN!

    Jan 22, 2007
    I work as an EMT and get mistaken for police because of the badge, uniform and radios. When this happens I just tell them "sorry, I'm not police, I don't get to carry a gun." What has also happened to me before is people ask me where bathrooms are, or where the electronics section is, confusing me for a security guard when at a mall or store. I really need to get polos... :)
  17. rk246

    rk246 Firewalker

    Dec 14, 2006
    Were lucky we get to wear tshirts or sweatshirts 99% of the time, only time we have to wear a blue duty shirt is for inspections, prefires etc. Look nothing like the cops. We do a good job of self staging if dispatch messes up and sends us without the cops. Our dispatch suffers from rectal-cranial inversion alot.
  18. Pyro


    Oct 25, 2006
    All the time, except when we're in bunkers. We wear light blue shirts with our badges and name tages on them and navy blue pants, the PD here wears all navy blue (almost black) and most of the time their hat. Most people just see a badge.
  19. TxFire


    Jan 11, 2006
    Until a few years ago we wore the tradional light blue button down with various patches etc. We now he the option (most do) of a grey polo with embroidery. We still get mistaken by some though. Our coats are dark navy and do have a badge and that can increase the confusion. But most often we are mistaken for store employees while shopping on duty. The larger city next to us has gone to BLACK polos with Fire Department on the back in bold yellow. I actually like it. So far I have had no real issues though.
  20. DaleGribble

    DaleGribble Sandwich!

    Mar 20, 2003
    Land of the toothless!
    I've never been mistaken for da po po.

    Our uniform shirts look nothing like local LE so that helps. We wear white polo shirts with a big start of life on the chest that looks nothing like a badge. We don't have badges either so that helps as well.