Yesterday’s blog covered an unfortunately widespread problem involving the theft of large sums from fire organizations (volunteer fire companies and firefighter unions) by trusted insiders. Today out of Winnipeg comes news of an extremely rare type of theft: a firefighter who stole from a victim, in this case a deceased victim.
Former Winnipeg firefighter Darren Fedyck, 48, was sentenced to six months in prison for stealing cash and jewelry from a dead woman’s apartment while on an emergency run. The theft was discovered by Fedyck’s colleagues. He was convicted largely on the basis of their testimony.
According to the Winnepeg Free Press, the crew responded on a well-being check for a 76-year old woman on October 2, 2015. The woman had passed away and as the crew was leaving her apartment, Fedyck returned inside to retrieve the woman’s health card number.
His colleagues grew suspicious over how long he was gone, and one returned finding him in the apartment with a purse or wallet in his hand. Firefighters later searched his jacket and found several hundred dollars in cash and two women’s necklaces.
Provincial Court Judge Kael McKenzie told Fedyck he intended to “send a strong message” with the sentence. Winnipeg Free Press quoted Judge McKenzie at length:
- Firefighters, along with a number of other first responders and emergency services personnel, are in a unique position in our society.
- They are called upon for emergency situations and the people they are dealing with are often vulnerable. Emergency services workers are allowed entry into people’s homes, at times without permission. In this case, the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service were not only entrusted with entry to the victim’s apartment but were allowed to be in the apartment unsupervised.
- This was a sad situation. An elderly woman passed away alone in her apartment. Mr. Fedyck’s conduct in stealing from this deceased woman is extremely serious.
- He did the very thing we entrust firefighters not to do when they are in someone’s home: to resist the temptation to steal from people who are in need of their assistance as emergency services personnel. A strong message of denunciation has to be sent to Mr. Fedyck and to other emergency services personnel. Society trusts you to care for us when we are at our most vulnerable. If you steal from someone, the consequences have to reflect the very serious breach of society’s trust.