Every number of years a firefighter makes news by doing a heroic deed or somehow saves a life utilizing their fire service training. The most recent was the high-rise scaffolding rescue in Yonkers. More often than not, the rescuer(s) acknowledge that it was a team effort or they were just doing what any of their colleagues would have done and it’s no big deal. We know better. We know that it’s not true - everyone involved is to be commended.
So it’s hardly any wonder when we learn of a fire service member going rogue and starting fires, endangering lives, eliciting many from within the service to be more critical of the offender than those outside of it. Such is the case with Trent Bronner, the Sleepy Hollow Fire Department's most active firefighter. He was arrested on a felony arson charge for setting the major fire in Sleepy Hollow on Cedar Street. The fire was started at 13 Cedar Street and spread to a three family home at 19 Cedar Street.
In speaking with several members of the fire service, and one from the same fire company, they all had the same feelings of disbelief, shock, disappointment and loss. “I never would have thought him capable of something like this,” said the fire company member. “I wonder how many other times he did this and didn’t get caught?” he added. He went on to explain he had an empty feeling about it all that he just couldn't reconcile. We concluded our discussion with him saying how horrible for the people involved, how scared they must have been for their lives and that they lost their homes and possessions. As expected, he thanked God that no one had been injured.
Sometimes we’re quick to rush to judgment and assume guilt when we read a story such as this. We find it hard to believe that those we put our faith in, sometimes blindly, are capable of such heinous acts. We rely on them when there’s a fire, of course, but we also rely on them at the scene of an accident, when all hell can be breaking lose. They are calm, professional, and reassuring, helping us handle one of our more stressful occasions.
We acknowledge that the vast majority of these firefighters are good, caring, serving and helpful people, contributing to their community through their service to others. We also recognize that this is really just one bad apple in a huge group of great, well-intentioned public servants. We hope that Bronner is not guilty and that the black eye he has earned himself will not tarnish the work of so many others. But as a police department member has repeatedly stated, the cops don't make an arrest until they have enough evidence. Let's hope this troubled young man can get some help.