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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is former Umatilla Florida Fire Chief Richard Shirk. He gets the award for the following.

UMATILLA - Fire Chief Richard Shirk resigned Monday, after igniting a scandal by sharing pictures of a fatal accident that included an image of a nearly-nude female victim.

Last week, City Manager Glenn Irby said that he planned to fire Shirk. On Monday, Irby said that Shirk had handed in his resignation, effective immediately.

In a Dec. 12 report, Umatilla Police Chief Doug Foster said that Shirk showed a lack of concern for the victim and embarrassed the fire department when he e-mailed pictures of the 26-year-old woman to fire departments in Mount Dora, Eustis and Leesburg.

In two of the images, the woman's breast is visible. The woman died after the early November crash.

According to Foster's report, Shirk said he intended to use the photographs for training.

Which leaves the unanswered question- What type of training? Is it common practice to send out photos to other departments? Out of respect for the accident victims, I'd think photos would be heavily scrutunized before being used. Then maybe I'm wrong.

A sensible fire chief would have never sent out this type of photo. Based on Shirk's resignation and the fact he had fired from a previous job, I don't think the sharing of these photos was any accident. I've always argued People in positions like this need to be held to high standards, and this at the very least constitutes poor judgment, at worst you have a fire chief engaging in a sick form of pornography.

No matter which, I name former Umatilla Florida Fire Chief Richard Shirk today's Knucklehead of the Day.

Update: According to this article at ABC News:

Shirk initially sent the e-mail to representatives of three nearby fire departments, and it was forwarded to other people, City Manager Glenn Irby said.

These pictures may have ended up in the hands of people who used them for their jollies. Pretty sick, and as one commenter said, what if this woman was your daughter or sister(or wife)?

Update 2: People who read the post before I updated, fail to consider that the City Manager was preparing to fire this guy. I've been following news in Florida long enough to know firemen, policemen, etc. too often get away with stuff we civilians would find our ass in jail for or fired. Take for instance these fire department officials. Only after enough outrage was voiced, were they demoted.


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Comments (22)

Seconded.... (Below threshold)
Son Of The Godfather:


Was she hot?... (Below threshold)

Was she hot?

What an asshole.... (Below threshold)

What an asshole.

I suppose it depends if he ... (Below threshold)

I suppose it depends if he sent them out with remarks about her body. I do think that graphic pictures are used in training, as "this is what an accident *really* looks like" so responders are prepared.

Still shouldn't have done it, but some people really are that tone deaf. Unbelievable, I know, but true.

I do sort of wonder... "nearly nude" and one "breast visible" don't mean the same thing in my mind.

And was it "Hey, waitaminute, is that a breast?" or "Woah! Boob!"

I don't think we can necessarily assume perverted pornographic tendencies instead of tone-deaf idiocy, though if it was an oopsie I would think that a suitable apology and groveling would do.

Ditto on the A-Hole!... (Below threshold)

Ditto on the A-Hole!

Before the universal condem... (Below threshold)

Before the universal condemnation begins....

Many FDs collect data on every call. They track every engine, every firefighter on scene, time of arrive etc etc etc. YES they also collect digital images and video. -- I know, I've written the software.

Surprise, firefighter use computers to do their job better too. Shocking.

The context of the email (which you notice was not released) answers everyone's question. If (for example) first responders from other jurisdictions where on scene and he routinly emails pictures in that situation, and this is just another example, then it is an oversight. (as he claims)

If the email said "Hey look at the dead woman's ta ta's" then that answer is obvious too.

Point being, photos of victims are shared all the time by first responders for a variety if legitimate reasons. It happens every day.

Context is everything here. Not that the media will ever provide it.

Paul is right. Unless there... (Below threshold)
mikem Author Profile Page:

Paul is right. Unless there is another story behind this that shows that this fireman was collecting "nude patients of the year" for his and other's pleasure, then it is ridiculous to call this abusive. Cops and fireman circulate accident pictures all the time. So do newspapers.
I've seen the "proof" on websites (without blackout circles etc.) If there is a breast hiding in that blurry mass of arms legs and emergency personnel it can only be "seen" by calculating where it should be by noting head arms and legs positions.

This is basic "all men are evil" attitude and unfortunately there are a lot of men who go along with it.

A 26 year old dying is a tr... (Below threshold)

A 26 year old dying is a tragedy and everything surrounding it should be treated as such. What if this was your sister or daughter?

No, Pretzel, Paul is right.... (Below threshold)

No, Pretzel, Paul is right. There are legitimate reasons to share images and non-legitimate reasons and I'm not clear which happened here.

The guy is running a fire department and a 26 year old dying is not a tragedy to them - its their business. It is their business to prevent if possible the next time. And if they need to use an image of her to improve their work, then they use the image.

This is another where you've gone off half-cocked, Bill.

I don't see that the ABC st... (Below threshold)

I don't see that the ABC story nor the two updates change my opinion, Bill. I think you have gone off half-cocked. Does not mean that it won't turn out that you are right, but we don't have enough info yet.

That others forwarded the images does not by itself indicate misconduct by Shirk. Nor does the fact that the City manager wanted to fire him. I don't have enough information yet to conclude that the fire chief behaved inappropriately.

Paul - "Point being, ph... (Below threshold)

Paul - "Point being, photos of victims are shared all the time by first responders for a variety if legitimate reasons. It happens every day."

The operative sentence in Paul's statement is "It happens every day," and it cuts to the heart of the matter.

That fire dept, its police force and the city's EMS personnel all have dozens (if not thousands) of accident photos to be utilized for ligit training purposes. For this asshat to select one that shows a dead woman's breast is WAY beyond the pale.

He got what he deserved, a place at the end of the unemployment line.

As a fireman we collect all... (Below threshold)

As a fireman we collect all the data we can, pictures included, on every incident that data is available, We share that data with 9 other departments (mutual aide agreements) in our area and our web site is open to them. What if we pick up something from the position of the body or the demage to the vehicle that saves the life of your mother or sister? Will you still be against it? Many times when checking a female involved in a vehicle crash we tell them we need to check for seat belt/shoulder harness stripes to try and eleminate missed internal injuries and many times the female is embarrassed, but then sometimes they simply rip off their top and show you their entire chest area. Not that I would take a picture of it but just remember, 'different strokes for different folks'. Fire rescue is no different than your doctor, hide an injury from them and die and future treatment is based on history.

scrapiron - "Not that I... (Below threshold)

scrapiron - "Not that I would take a picture of it but just remember, 'different strokes for different folks'. Fire rescue is no different than your doctor, hide an injury from them and die and future treatment is based on history."

I won't dispute that however, 'different strokes for different folks' is the key. Whatever was thought to be gained by the sharing of this photo isn't perishable like say, a banana. It has no "use by date."

Some people's "stokes," in this case the deceased relatives, may not have wanted this sharing to occur.

Nothing would have been lost if permission were granted to use the image[s] prior to them being sent to other city/state agencies.

I don't know that anyone is... (Below threshold)

I don't know that anyone is claiming that this guy *wasn't* sending the picture because he's a pervert, only that we can't say that he *was*.

Because taking pictures and sharing them is routine. And seeing body parts is common enough that it really might not register, which is what I took away from Scrapiron's statement.

Showing the picture to the world at large would violate this dead woman even more but without seeing it we really don't know *at all* if it's a picture of a body or if it's a picture of a boob. And YES of course her family is right to be upset either way.

And that the chief has resigned could be proof that it wasn't a mistake or poor judgement, or it could be proof that once someone complained enough that someone had to fall, or it could be the straw that broke the camel's back and finally got a bad man out of the office.

Will those who forwarded the picture also be fired?

marc writes: No... (Below threshold)

marc writes:

Nothing would have been lost if permission were granted to use the image[s] prior to them being sent to other city/state agencies.

I strongly disagree. The issue for me is what use of the photo was made by the chief. If he sent it out for giggles, then I'm happy he's lost his job. But if he was sharing information with his peers, and some yahoo in the other department forwarded it inappropriately, then it is not the chief's fault.

I don't think that the family should be the arbiter of what information fire/rescue departments collect and share. They are not making decisions based on need and utility, only their own naturally strong emotions.

SPQR - "I strongly disa... (Below threshold)

SPQR - "I strongly disagree. The issue for me is what use of the photo was made by the chief."

Your right, obviously. The issue for me is the "sensitive nature" some families might consider this type of photo.

This Chief, and any police or fire chief, has the right to use this type of image for training purposes. All I would ask, and I suspect many families would also, is to at minimum ask permission first.

As I stated earlier this isn't perishable material nothing or no one would have been harmed by a slight delay in asking permission first.

And that process in no way limits officials from using other images that don't depict what this one does.

I think that I'd refuse per... (Below threshold)

I think that I'd refuse permission for any pictures of my loved one dead in an accident if I were asked. The answer would be "no".

That's emotion speaking, and if it were me with a dead child, the emotion *would* speak.

Intellectually I know that police and whoever else take lots and lots of pictures of horrible things. That they need to do that. I just don't think that if they were required to ask permission to use specific pictures that they'd ever get permission. It would always be, "use different pictures."

Synova - "I just don't ... (Below threshold)

Synova - "I just don't think that if they were required to ask permission to use specific pictures that they'd ever get permission. It would always be, "use different pictures."

No argument from me on that point. But you have to admit the number of images that contain what may be viewed as "erotic" or sexual in nature has to be very low.

I view this case as somewhat of the outlier or exception to the rule.

If memory serves the vast majority of "Good Samaritan" laws enacted were due in large part to protect people, doctors and civilians, from lawsuits for some type of malfeasance but also in cases similar to this where some type of "exposure" occurred while treating the injured.

Bill,Regarding you... (Below threshold)
mikem Author Profile Page:


Regarding your update, "Update- Click here to read an article at ABC News. These pictures ended up in the hands of people who used them for their jollies."

There is absolutely no mention of what you say, that "These pictures ended up in the hands of people who used them for their jollies." Absolutely none. Did you link to the wrong article. If not then that is an *incorrect* description.

You also just slandered everyone that received that email as a bunch of sickos. With a link that does not even attempt to say so.

'What if that was your sister or daughter?' Really?? How about What if that was your father, brother or son whose career just ended because of a blurry exposed breast in an accident photo?

Hell, let his kids starve. The important thing is to prove we're men by agreeing to toss other men into the pit and assume we won't be a victim ourselves.

I can't find the article, b... (Below threshold)

I can't find the article, but the first time I read about this he claimed that he routinely sent out pictures to those departments.
Also, in all the articles, including the two above, he claims he didn't notice the nekkidness.

Since we have not seen either the pics or the emails, and since we all know that today's "journalists" aren't just biased, they're lazy, stupid, ignorant and will always, always, always go with the "narrative" over the facts (Jenna 6, Duke lacrosse, etc.), I'm giving the firefighter the benefit of the doubt.
He's spent his life running toward what everybody else is running away from. At least, until somebody does some real journalism, not the fact-free/opinion-full stories I see above.

I'm glad this guy will neve... (Below threshold)

I'm glad this guy will never have a job again where he is responsible for the safety of the public. What he did was extremely disrespectful, insensitive, and careless. I am a 3rd year medical student, and we have lectures on critical care emergencies that include graphic images. But guess what? Faces and 'private parts' are blurred or blacked out. Why? Because the people in the photos are ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS that deserve RESPECT and the doctors responsible for our training are professionals. Yes, it is our business, but a key aspect of that business is respect for patients. Maybe he didn't mean it to be derogatory, but if he lacks sensitivity to the point that he doesn't understand why this was completely inappropriate, he has no business working with the public. He should be in a factory somewhere.

Having known Richard, I mus... (Below threshold)
Dana Kenyon:

Having known Richard, I must say this was by in no means an intentional or deliberate act to "expose" the women.
I have seen the photos on the local news channels website and unless you actually enlarge and zoom in on the pictures you can not even see the breast.
My best assumption is that someone that received it, did just that. I choose to call those people "gas cans" They lurk around every corner, just waiting to sabatoge anyone and everyone.
Richard is a 3rd generation Fire-fighter. He holds his position as highly as he does being a Father.
When I met Richard, he was a 22 year old man, who held the care for others with the utmost respect. He even became a Chaplain to further assist the needs of those he may respond to.
He is a man who now has custody of his son.
Yes that means ALOT in my book!

He is not the sicko that you all have made him out to be.

I have 3 children and God forbid if anyone of my children were injured in a MVA I could only pray to have a man like Richard Shirk respond to the scene.

This is a prime example of how the media attempts to destroy peoples lives.






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