Persistent public helped press for info on firefighter campfire

Two & Out
By James Peters
August 25, 2017 - 1:59pm

KAMLOOPS — When a group of firefighters was caught enjoying a campfire near Adams Lake last month, reaction fell into two distinct camps.

The first camp told everyone to leave the poor firefighters alone.

They work long and hard trying to protect our province, and they deserve a little respite before getting back at it.

And after all, who better to know how to extinguish a campfire safely?

The second camp said there are not two sets of rules and there shouldn't be two sets of consequences.

Firefighters should be the first to set an example for the rest of us, not looking for a free pass.

It is rare to see reaction to an issue so clearly split into two camps.

And the people in those camps don't fit into clearly defined generalizations about pro-this or anti-that, liberal or conservative.

I can only think of one other example: something about a little mining operation that wants to set up nearby.

After thinking that story was put to bed, we found out this week that the firefighters were, in fact, punished, as they were levied a fine in excess of $1,000.

That was uncovered after a dogged email campaign by a member of the public.

The person behind those emails sets an example for us all.

I freely admit: our newsroom could have done the same, but dropped the story after comments earlier this month that results of an investigation would be kept internal.

This member of the public wasn't happy, and took it upon herself to continue to ask questions.

In time like these for local media, this is sometimes how answers happen.

With wildfires growing and changing almost daily, we in the news media have a tendency to jump quickly from story to story to ensure we aren't missing anything significant.

We are assisted by those in the public whose minds are as inquisitive as ours.

In a time when the president of the United States can call journalists "sick people," it's never been more clear: we can use all the help we can get.