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Mural portraying death as mascot of Vancouver Fire Department unveiled again? We've got a problem...

Detail from mural in a photograph from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association 

Last summer, serious allegations surfaced about the activities of Vancouver Fire Department (VFD) officials and their treatment of a homeless man named Curtis Brick. Curtis had serious addictions, and the allegations focussed on what the witnesses felt was callous treatment by first responders from the VFD. A coroner's inquest  to get to the bottom of the allegations so far has been refused.

Now, a mural at Fire Hall #2 that was drawn to the attention of the VFD in February, and which a spokesman called "inappropriate", said had personally embarassed the Fire Chief, and promised was being removed immediately was covered up for a couple of months, and then uncovered again once the media inquiries passed in late March. The mural shows the Fire Hall #2's mascot as death, with a syringe for a scythe, and the words "The Skids" describing the neighbourhood the Fire Hall serves.

You can see a photo of it here. The photo of it, by the way, hardly does the five metre by three metre mural justice. It's huge and visible from the street.

The Assistant Fire Chief, speaking to the media yesterday, said that "Personally, I don't have a problem with it," but added that if just one lilly-livered person was offended, that would be enough for him to remove it.

I'm not sure how the Assistant Fire Chief of Vancouver doesn't have a problem with a mural that shows the Department's mascot as the angel of death, calls the diverse and multi-cultural neighbourhoods they serve "The Skids", reflects a very concerning level of burn out among representatives of that fire hall, and generally suggests that all of the junkies the fire department might "rescue" are going to die anyway.

I'm reminded of Richmond's fire service, that apparently didn't see any problem in harassing female firefighters for years. Perhaps it's time for a top to bottom shake out of a culture that sees drug addicts and Vancouver's poorest neighbourhood as less worthy.

I don't see any problem with that.

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