Brian Williams was forced to finally come clean regarding his decade-long lie about his helicopter getting shot down by an RPG. But now, the internet’s attention has turned to previous questionable assertions made by NBC’s chief anchor.
Many have now turned to the heroic tale Williams has often told about his service as a volunteer firefighter: that he once saved a puppy (or as he told Esquire, two puppies) while searching through a burning building.
Williams talked about the courageous act in a 2011 piece he wrote for USA Weekend:
“My firehouse was a modest engine company — three engines, three garage doors and about 30 of the best men I’ve ever known. We fought all the usual fires that break out in the suburbs: brush fires, car fires, dumpsters, dryers, light fixtures — and worst of all, the occasional house, already in flames when we arrived. I remember one such house fire — the structure was fully involved with flames and smoke. I was wearing a breathing apparatus, conducting a search on my hands and knees, when I felt something warm, squishy and furry on the floor of a closet. I instinctively tucked it in my coat. When I got outside, I saw two small eyes staring up at me, and I returned the 3-week-old (and very scared) puppy to its grateful owners.”
There are several inconsistencies in Williams’s story:
“My firehouse was a modest engine company — three engines, three garage doors and about 30 of the best men I’ve ever known.”
An engine company’s main responsibility is to put the fire out, not search for victims. It is the truck company, or ladder company that is traditionally in charge of searching for those trapped in the house fire. However, It is very possible that due to the nature of the local Fire Department, their duties may overlap and intertwine.
“I remember one such house fire — the structure was fully involved with flames and smoke. I was wearing a breathing apparatus, conducting a search on my hands and knees, when I felt something warm, squishy and furry on the floor of a closet. I instinctively tucked it in my coat.”
Why Williams decided to tuck a puppy into his coat instead of carry it out of the building remains unclear. If Williams opened up his coat, he would have been violating basic protocol (and common sense) by exposing himself to dangerous elements while inside of a house that is on fire. And it doesn’t take a firefighter to address the obvious: that it’s really, really hot inside of a house that is on fire.
Another questionable dynamic in Williams’s “puppy saving” story comes when finding that he was a volunteer firefighter only while attending high school, where seniors usually graduate when they are between the ages of seventeen and eighteen. Traditionally, most New Jersey volunteer fire departments do not let anyone go near a fire until they are at least eighteen years of age. A brush fire is one thing, but a house fire with flames and smoke blowing out of every window is an entirely different ballgame.
Most fire departments also have a probationary period of at least six months to a year in which volunteers serve in an auxiliary role, and are strictly forbidden from fighting fires. During An NJ firefighter’s probationary period, they must obtain training from the county fire academy if they wish to respond to emergencies and fight fires. The basic Firefighter 1 program in New Jersey requires well over one-hundred hours of training, which usually takes between two and six months.
While the rules governing fire departments were said to be more lax during the NBC anchor’s high school days, his story of courage and heroism should rightly be met with skepticism.
Jordan Schachtel is a National Security Correspondent for Breitbart News. He was a New Jersey Volunteer Firefighter for over four years, and attended the Monmouth County Fire Academy to complete his Firefighter 1 training.