Reality at odds with picture being painted

Any job in emergency services is tough enough without being obstructed by another branch. But the more I dig into the bizarre St. Patrick’s Day (night) incident in downtown Vancouver involving members of the Vancouver Fire Department in conflict with the police, the more troubled I become.

Firemen are heroes aren’t they? That’s the image of them rescuing people from burning buildings and all that stuff. Well, it’s true, sometimes they are heroes. And sometimes they die trying to do their job. But, for the most part their job is routine, mundane and relatively unskilled. It doesn’t take big balls to polish the chrome on a fire truck.

The police have an inside joke about firefighters, with the saying: “there are only two jobs in the world you can earn money in bed.” And from a cop’s perspective out in the mean streets, slugging it out with the drunks, meth heads, crack heads and other denizens of the dark, that can be a little frustrating. But, when a cop just doing his job, winds up slugging it out with an allegedly drunk off-duty firefighter and finds himself put at risk by the other attending emergency service workers, well, that’s entirely unacceptable.

Yet, that is apparently what happened on St. Paddy’s Day in Vancouver. But, never mind the actions of the allegedly drunken off-duty fireman and his yapping whelp, it is the actions of the on-duty firemen at the scene I have a bigger problem with.

The alleged drunks were in a car that drove into a building. The Fire Department were the first on the scene as is usual in traffic accidents. But, apparently they quickly determined it was one of their own who would likely be in the jackpot. The police believe that the off duty fireman and his son weren’t passengers in the car, but one of them was driving, and I am not sure which at this point, and the female being portrayed as the driver is a set-up by the firemen attending. Which, if true, is obstruction of justice as defined in the criminal code.

This would seem to be the premise the investigating officer was acting upon when he was told to “F**** Off!” by Grant Mason, the off duty fireman’s lippy son. Curtis Mason, the Elder, then waded into the confrontation and the situation went from 0 to 60 in record time. A push, a shove, a F*** you and pretty soon everyone is rolling on the ground.

It was at this point, it would seem, the firefighters strove to make their reputation as zeros, not heroes. They encircled the cops struggling to get control of the out-of-control Masons, as vividly depicted on YouTube. What might have happened if one of the fighting Masons had grabbed the pistol of one the young officers and shot him? Would the on duty firemen have been looking at being charged as parties to the offence?

To make it all worse, the firemen were asked to provide statements relative to what they witnessed. They all said they didn’t see anything, that they were loading their truck or some such nonsense. The VPD Sgt. on scene told them in no uncertain terms that there would be some very unpleasant consequences if they didn’t get their pens out sharpish.

They did, ultimately, I’m told. But they need not have bothered. Three liners as statements are not much help. One even wrote, according to my source, that he felt bad for not helping his colleague in the fight with police.

The VFD spokesman Capt. Rob Jones Cook was spouting off in the media trying to spin the negative optics after the story broke on Monday. And what a load of rubbish he was spouting too. I wonder how he’ll spin this?

The police are often in the media crosshairs while the firefighters can do no wrong. The reality is often very different from that perception.

Obstruction of a peace officer in the execution of his duty is a serious criminal code offence. And, if the actions of members of the Vancouver Fire Department were as described, and I have no reason to disbelieve my sources or the civilian witnesses who corroborate police statements, then the Vancouver taxpayers deserve an explanation from their fire service, not gums flapping from a spin doctor. Or a stage-managed press conference which didn’t address the facts of the situation.

Former prosecutor, former Police Complaints Commissioner and now not-seldom-enough-heard-from lawyer, Don Morrison, has said he may sue the police in this case. Marvelous! For under oath, the truth will out. And the truth, in my view, is not what you heard at the press conference yesterday.

Leo Knight

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  1. The only way that Vancouver Fire Department to get its credibility back is to suspend Curtis Mason, and EVERY SINGLE FIREMAN that was on duty at that incident. Mason has already been charged – but the other firemen could easily be criminally charged with obstruction and public mischief (for the false witness statements).

    Vancouver Police owe it to the public and its police members to pursue this matter further. I would also suggest to the VPD Chief to commence civil defamation proceedings against both Curtis and Grant Mason for their false comments in the media about the true nature of the situation (as well, the Masons should be sued for being ‘just-plain-assholes’).

    From what I’m seeing and reading, the Vancouver Fire Dept needs to be cleaned out in a major way. They can start by outright firing Curtis Mason and the rest of the dirtbag, firefighting, bucket-head criminal assholes who made life dangerous for the arresting and back-up officers that night.

    Bunch of idiots!

  2. Nice editorial!

    The two idiots were very foolish to pick a lawyer just because of his well-known anti-police credentials, thinking, perhaps, that they wanted a lawyer who wasn’t afraid to go after the police. Well, of course he’s not afraid of the police! It’s not his future that’s at stake! It’s not his butt that’ll end up in jail! He still gets paid, no matter what happens to them! A good lawyer would have surveyed the field of battle and advised the fireperson to sincerely apologize, blame it all on a drunken misunderstanding, try to salvage his son’s future by taking full responsibility himself, and look very teary and contrite while doing so. He would have garnered some sympathy from the public and they both would have skated with conditional sentences. Not gonna happen now! They’ve backed themselves into one helluva corner.

    The fireperson and his (bad) actor son will live to regret many of the decisions they made last week, especially their press conference, which was a disaster from the getgo. You know you’re in trouble when the MSM (who always love an anti-police story) start asking “the victims” awkward questions like: “So, there are two independent witnesses who stated you started the fight with police. Are they both lying?”

    Then, to top it off, the brilliant fireperson, who should be doing everything possible to keep his four firefighter accomplices onside for the upcoming assault PC trial, ends up basically publicly accusing them of cowardice for not wading in to help him fight the cops. If any of them had planned on being “flexible” with the truth while giving their evidence, he’s made it clear that there won’t be any incentive for doing so, and managed to alienate the entire VFD at the same time.

    We’re obviously not dealing with brain surgeons here! Hope they do some significant jail time.


  3. Leo
    That was a very well written piece on this incident. I too have sen the footage may times. I am a (wait for it) Vancouver FF as well. Watching our guys standing around, with hands in pockets, is, well sickening really. I can only hope there is some good reason that they did not help their police comrades (they were told not to by the police, or their own officer told them not too, the later being a bit chickensh*t). But honestly, if the attending FFers really wanted to help Curtis out that badly, they would have jumped in, and pulled the police off , while being filed (unbenownst to them).
    What I find interesting about this whole incident is that no officer is being quoted as saying “We asked the firemen for help, and they refused” or “the firemen attending were told to stay back”. The audio on the video does not clear that up, nor does Kieran McConnel while he shakes his baton at one FFer. I’m not sure where some of your statements come from, (I hear you say “I heard” a few times). Well, here’s what we at the VFD have heard:
    1) The police were requested to the scene by the attending firefighters for an intoxicated driver
    2) Apparently there were two other officers at the scene that did not wrestle with the Masons.
    There is only one conclusion to this whole thing, and that is Curtis and his son have made a big thing bigger by looking like complete morons on TV by blatantly lying to reporters. There is no question that both Masons made some very bad decisions that night, and nobody on the VFD supports Curtis on this at all. The officers on scene did exactly what they should have. The firefighters on duty, well, their lack of action really needs to be brought forward. A public apology would have been the best bet for Curtis, who knows, perhaps if he swallowed some of his pride, those charges maight have just dissapeared, but certainly not now.
    Many FFers have, and will, jump in to help a cop, paramedic, citizen, or what have you.
    The only humor from this is that it gives both agencys something tease each other at on those drawn out scenes. The other day, I helped a neighbour (who is VPD) move, and some friends of thiers showed up (also VFD). A few laughs, some harmless ribbing, and on with the moving. I think most of this firestorm has been created by the media. A policeman I talked to yesterday said it best :” Firemen aren’t used to bad press. We (VFD) get it all the time”

  4. Leo, Why do you have to resort to name calling and mudslinging with the degrading comments about Firefighters? Just because Police Officers get that all the time? Comments like “Hey have another donut break!” I could go on and waste an hour about aspects of a cops job that aren’t that tough. Driving around in a Police car most of the day doesn’t seem that tough. But for me to do that wouldn’t be right. They have a tough job. I am a Firefighter and also a HUGE supporter of the Police. Ignorant comments about the cops come from uneducated jackasses. Somehow by reading your article I think you forgot that comments like that weren’t ever started by Firefighters. We didn’t start this Hero crap. I can see why cops could be jealous for not getting the due credit. But please don’t blame Firefighters. Do you ever apologize for your comments? I think one is in order. I just hope the Mason’s would do the same.

  5. Sorry, I make a mistake in my typing:
    “The other day, I helped a neighbour (who is VPD) move, and some friends of thiers showed up (also VPD). A few laughs, some harmless ribbing, and on with the moving. I think most of this firestorm has been created by the media. A policeman I talked to yesterday said it best :” Firemen aren’t used to bad press. We (VPD) get it all the time” “
    That should make more sense. Cheers, and stay safe……

  6. Ha, ha. . . thanks, I did notice that. And thanks for the post too. I do recognize what you are saying and that you are right in that. But, I think that is exactly what makes my point. The guys on duty that night and at that scene did something that should be embarrassing to the Fire Department. They need to make that right. The Masons embarrassed themselves and the Department with their initial actions. They underlined that embarrassment with their press conference.

  7. Leo, with all due respect, have you talked to the officers (or firefighters) who attended that scene?
    You’re column seems to be based on “I heard” or “from what I understand” which you and I both know is coffee break banter.
    Talking with firefighters gets no clearer picture. Until those on both sides that attended speak to their superiors, and that information is brought to light, we are all in the dark as to what really happened. We can’t make any assumptions of who did or didn’t help with 1 minute and ten seconds of grainy video, where we can’t hear a damn thing!
    What we do know is this: FF Mason and his son were a couple of dumb ass drunks that night, and have turned into a couple of lying, snivelling “whoa-is-me, I got beat up by the cops” liers. Nobody on the fire department will defend Curtis’s actions that night. We all know that cops don’t go around jumping people, like a couple of bored teenagers in Surrey.
    He deserves whatever punishment the law, or his job, may give him. Alcohol is a piss-poor excuse. But don’t dice up the attending firefighters, and start calling every firefighter in the city a chicken sh*t who won’t jump in when the fights go bad. That is just wrong and untrue, my friend.

  8. Thanks for posting and for the most part I agree.

    A couple of things. First, I did not talk to the FF’s involved largely because they already too a position in their statements. Once done, it is career suicide to deviate.

    Second, I never suggested the FF’s were “chicken s**t”. The police weren’t looking for help in the fight. They were expecting the FF’s would not make the situation worse, which from all appearances, they did.

  9. Ugh, yeah no kidding Curtis is an embarrasment. As for the others, well, we are not really sure what went on there. There are too many ways you can put a twist on this regarding the firemen not helping. Honestly, I really get a sick feeling in my stomach when I watch it, but I wasn’t there, so it easier to be an armchair firmean than to make the call. Those who attended are not supposed to talk about it, and what goes around the kitchen table isn’t exactly realiable info. I, and most any other fireman you talk to, support the cops on the actions they did that night. I’m sure that was just the pick of the litter fight on a typical night in Granville St. It really is a waste of our police resources that they have to babysit a bunch of ignorant drunks every Friday and Saturday night. Maybe we need laws like in New York City. I recently visited there for St. Patricks day (for the second time) and despite the extremely crowded pubs and bars ( I think their occupancy rules must be waived that day), I am yet to see one fist fight, not even a pushing and shoving match. I asked a New Yorker why this is, and he told me that the law forbids public drunkeness, mostly fighting and urinating in public. HImmediate arrest and heavy fines are issued, that are the same as a speeding ticket (they must be paid when you renew a drivers license, or get vehicle insurance). What a great idea for this city…

  10. You’re right, you did not say chickensh*t, my bad.
    I think the police that attended really need to speak out. Did they ask for help, or did they want the firemen to stay back ?(Mason identified himself as a fireman early in this incident, even to the attending FFers, who called for the police becasue of the intoxicated driver). If they asked for help, and it was refused by the firefighters (or the FF Officer) then that IS chickensh*t, as we know, firemen would not let one of their own get beat up by some drunk, so why would they not help a cop in a fight??

  11. An interesting thought. Back in the summer of 2000, I wrote a piece on this subject of drunken loutsw in Vancouver and why it seemed peculiar to this city and not elsewhere. I’d like to see a discussion on this to help me understand why I can attend a festival with 300,000 people drinking and enjoying themselves in Halifax with nary a problem yet in Vancouver, there are more drunken zipperheads causing problems than Carter has Little Liver Pills.

  12. Yeah, you’ve definatly got a point there. Why do a few knuckleheads ruin a good time for everybody in Vancouver? Take the fireworks (aka the Celebration of “Fights”). The majority of their budget is to hire extra officers to keep the retards at bay. Also, the Seafest, Greek Days, all no longer because 5% of people can’t handle their booze. OK, the Hose Reel Fest in North Vancouver was officially a firefighting celebration, but problems in the beer garden stemmed from non FFer’s getting out of hand. Of course, FFer’s aren’t known for shying away from having a few pints, but being surrounded by co-workers was one good way of keeping your behavior in check. Now, that Festival is no longer. I guess we’ll never know the mentality of these guys who show up at events for the sole purpose of getting into a fight, what makes them tick, until they start to get arrested, and we begin to disect what the f*ck is with these idiots.

  13. As a Toronto Firefighter, I must question the comments regarding why the on-duty VFD members did not jump on the scuffle.

    Why would they? There were 3 or 4 cops there to control the 2 “suspects”. The Cops’ lives did not appear to be in danger.

    Even though the Firefighters probably knew the one guy was a VFD member, because they were on scene first, and requested the VPD to attend due to a suspected impaired female driver, it would’ve been even worse had they jumped in, especially if more Cops shoped up.

    Can you imagine, more Cops arriving finding 4 or 5 firefighters fighting with the other Cops already on scene?

    Hopefully the firearms would have remained holstered LOL!

    Truthfully, watch the video carefully. You will see the Captain (the wearing the red helmet) walk over and appear to say something to the baton-wielding Officer after he struck someone over near the door. The Cop then points his baton at the Captain and says something back (possibly threatening).

    If it was threatening, then the Captain made the correct decision in not allowing him or his crew to become involved in this very embarrassing brawl.

    Gord, TFS

  14. Leo,

    I’ve read all the posts re this incident and I was going to rant and rave about fireman (I’m an RCMP officer in the LMD)However that’s not going to do anyone any good except stir the pot and strain the relationship between police and fire even more. But I do believe those 4 on duty fireman along with the MASONS should be charged due to the following:

    1 MASON Sr was the vehicle driver until the accident. He had help switching him off with the female the police found in the driver seat upon arrival.
    2. In written statements to VPD all 4 fireman state they did not see what had happened despite video evidence to the contrary.

    The above noted constitutes Obstruction of Justice plus several other offenses. If the public is going have their faith restored then VFD management needs to do the right thing.

  15. 70 seconds of a 15 minute incident and all of a sudden thousands of people were there it seems!!!..Give me a break. Also these sources you have in VPD. Is one of them the officer that leaked false information in an e-mail for all to see about one of the FF’s on the scene that night? If so, “I have no reason to disbelieve my sources” might wanna re-think that one if this guy is one of them. Not once was assistance asked for by VPD that night. In fact the drunk FF asked many times for the on-duty guys to “help him”. Now imagine that. Say the FF’s do jump in to help VPD after the Off duty FF made that statement. Now if they go to help, the Members involved in the fight may think the FF’s are in to help the wrong guy’s and then things could have really gone sideways. This story has has grown this big thanks to the media and the he said, she said, my sources tell me type column’s such as yours. I have friends that are Police officers and I have nothing but respect for what they do. We all of jobs to do. If you don’t like breaking up fights, going to domestic’s, then quit. We have another recruitment in the Fall.

  16. “However that’s not going to do anyone any good except stir the pot and strain the relationship between police and fire even more”
    I wasn’t aware there was bad blood bewteen cops and firemen, maybe were you work?
    I work in Vancouver, and the only thing that this incident has brought on between cops and firefighters is a few extra pot shots. This whole thing has been blown way out of proportion by the media (as usual). It’s amazing the number of incidents attended by emergency services in a given day or week, amazing stories of men and women doing there jobs that are missed by the media, or only make a 1 inch by 1 inch square on pg A23 of the province. Yet this debaucle is being beaten to death.
    Let’s be honest, until those officers and firefighters that attended that night give statements as to what happened, you can’t judge one’s actions (or inactions) on a 1 minute video clip.
    “1 MASON Sr was the vehicle driver until the accident. He had help switching him off with the female the police found in the driver seat upon arrival.”
    I find this statement to be very false. If Mason Sr. was the driver, then why did the firefighters (who were first on scene) request the police for an intoxicated driver? This does not look like the actions of people who are trying to “protect their brother”. Who would be stupid enough to help switch a drunk driver on Robson St. (busy) on St. Patricks day (even busier) and risk his or her career to help some drunken idiot who apprears that he wasn’t worth helping anyway??

  17. “I could go on and waste an hour about aspects of a cops job that aren’t that tough. Driving around in a Police car most of the day doesn’t seem that tough.”

    What fricken planet do you live on? Driving around? I’d love to just drive around. However, if you see me driving I’m going to a call, or maybe just maybe, I’m heading to my first meal break in 4 shifts.

    What a classic example of insert foot into mouth. As you clowns sit around having your two BBQs and two sleepovers, we’re going hungry, getting beat up, spit on, and working hours of voluntary overtime. Why, because the work has to get done.

    When was the last time one of your bucketheads had to work 19 hours, take twenty calls, and eat your lunch out of a hospital vending machine? My guess is never.

    As for you Mister Toronto, the rule is when one of us fights, we all fight and that includes “all” emergency personally. I’ve NEVER EVER seen a paramedic stand by and watch us go toe to toe with someone. And to say that the police outnumbered the Masons, so it was okay to stand there with their thumbs in the asses, is a load of crap.

    That kind of attitude just sucks,

    Sure, in the end they may have one the fight with out the help of the Sgt and then firefighter, but at what cost? A career ended back injury? A broken nose? Arm?

    That’s why you self-centered moron, when one of us fights – we all fight. I know you’re a little simple, so I’ll tell you. The reason is, so that the incident can end as soon as possible. The faster it ends, the less likely there will be an injury, to the police and the suspect.

    WTF is this world coming too?

  18. Why don’t you people PLEASE learn how to spell and edit your comments. When one person with horrible spelling and grammar accuses another of being “simple” it makes you all look uneducated and not worthy of posting your opinions. Enough already.

  19. Enough with the mudslinging, guys. Those of us in the biz BOTH know that both occupations are stessful, busy, and have down time in thier own unique ways. I don’t agree that either police OR firefighters have it easier than the other. We do the job not because we want to be heros (OK, a select few want/need the ego boost), but we know it takes a special person to commit his career to these jobs. It’s a way of life. Enough bitching at each other!!

  20. “Anonymous said…

    Why don’t you people PLEASE learn how to spell and edit your comments. When one person with horrible spelling and grammar accuses another of being “simple” it makes you all look uneducated and not worthy of posting your opinions. Enough already.”

    Ad hominem – the last resort of the truly ignorant.

    You would have been far better off actually responding to the points made, instead of slamming the spelling and grammar of our fellow annon.

    Next time attack the post and not the writer, or you will be viewed as the one lacking in credibility.

  21. Just got back from holidays and noticed the post on 2007/04/09 regrading my earlier April 05th post (I’m the RCMP officer). The reason I said those things were as follows:

    1. I’ve spoken to one of the VPD GIS investigators about this incident. He relayed the information about the driver swap and the statements provided by all fireman on duty at that incident. Plus the fact that there were witnesses and statements obtained citing this.

    2. Having been a police officer for 8 years people do incredibly stupid things for incredibly stupid reasons. So swapping out driver’s on busy Robson St is no too far fetched; especially if you are trying to help out a buddy.

    3. Burnaby FF were none too friendly after the arrest of Andrew JEEVES for cocaine trafficking and firearms possession.

    4. Vancouver FF were none too happy after Chad PROCTOR, former FF and Hells’ Angel prospect was arrested and charged for Organized Crime related offenses.

    5. Delta FF are none too happy after Vancouver FF caught with a grow op in his basement. Delta FF have not been too friendly since October 2006 when an off duty Delta FF was the driver in an impaired hit and run, fled the scene on foot back to the house party hosted by Delta FF. I’m not sure of the outcome of that incident.

    6. I was at a major MVA in Langley involving a stolen car. The Langley FF crew who showed up were pretty standoff-ish and not too helpful. All they had to do was divert traffic using one fire engine. They are more highly visible at night than a police car.

    So in closing the above is why I made the post on April 05th, 2007

  22. “3. Burnaby FF were none too friendly after the arrest of Andrew JEEVES for cocaine trafficking and firearms possession.”
    I question your posts, because your information is inacurrate. Example:Andy Jeves : he is a FF, but not with Burnaby.
    In regards to the driver swap, it was fire who requested police for an intoxicated driver. Would they have called for police at all if they were trying to help out a buddy?
    You then go on about mistakes FF have made. What now, do I go and dig up dirt about the police ?
    “Langley RCMP not very happy when member is caught and charged for using detachment computer for trying to gain access to kiddie porn.”
    Let’s grow up, shall we?

  23. Okay..some things are getting lost in the translation here.

    Re Anonymous post on 2007/04/24. I AM NOT digging up dirt on the Fireman or trying to slander them in anyway. If it appears that way, that is not my intent. I apologize if that was how it appeared.

    My point was to explain why I had made a statement in an earlier post “stir the pot and strain the relationship….”. I mentioned those files as examples because they were from my own experience.

    As for JEEVES, I NEVER said JEEVES WAS a Burnaby FF. However re the information on the alleged driver swap with MASON; I am only going by what I was told by another police officer. That information could be totally inaccurate.

    As for police dirty laundry, good Lord, all one has to do is watch the news. From the shenanigans in West Vancouver PD, to the RCMP brass in Ottawa, to the Chief of Police in Calgary, its quite the circus. No police department has the moral authority to take the high ground with that kind of BS.

    I hope this explains things better and soothes any ruffled feathers.

  24. No problem. We both know there are a few bad apples in any organization that make us all look bad when things are brought to light. The rest of us just do our jobs, and are thankful to go home at the end of the day with a paycheque and a sense of accomplishment. F*ck ups like Jeeves, Mason, and the FFer in Delta have no right to continue duty, as they have proven that they do not have the level of trust that thier jobs demand. They should be dismissed if they are found guilty on any charges.

    Cheers, and stay safe.

  25. 1. I’ve spoken to one of the VPD GIS investigators about this incident. He relayed the information about the driver swap and the statements provided by all fireman on duty at that incident. Plus the fact that there were witnesses and statements obtained citing this.

    Have you spoken to the same guy lately? Has he told you that “someone” in VPD also spread an unconfirmed rumour about one of the FF’s on scene that night? And that also turned out to be false? If you are a police officer as you say you are and your buddy is a VPD officer then what business do you both have of spreading unconfirmed “bullshit” rumours about people on the internet? Do you not have a code of conduct? The driver swap isn’t true. Will you admit it when it’s proven VFD members didn’t swap drivers?


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