Home / National News / Fire Departments Get Flak for 'Glamorizing' Crisis Pictures


(NEW YORK) — Two separate fire departments are drawing public criticism for posting online pictures of recent disasters that appear to have been doctored with Instagram and other image filters.

Followers of the New York Fire Department and the Seattle Fire Department expressed concern that the emergency units may be using fancy filters to glamorize photos of the recent East Harlem gas explosion and Seattle helicopter crash, two deadly incidents that received national media attention.

Some of the first pictures of the helicopter crash near the Seattle Space Needle that killed two people on Tuesday were posted by the Seattle Fire Department on Twitter. The pictures had a curious greenish tinge to them.


2 DOAs at helicopter crash scene near space needle. pic.twitter.com/JwhBs2nYUF

— Seattle Fire Dept (@SeattleFire) March 18, 2014


Twitter users were not impressed, one commenting, “that’s really hip, seattle fire department put a cool instagram filter on their news report of two dead on arrivals.”


@dcatchpole I’m glad I’m not the only person who noticed that! Looks like a filter to me, esp compared to the other photos from the scene.

— Stacie (@SparksinKY) March 18, 2014


Other images posted to the department’s Twitter account include a photo of a car wreck in January, which also raised a few eyebrows.

The Seattle Fire Department did not respond to several calls and an email from ABC News seeking comment.


@SeattleFire: Car snaps power pole before hitting parked vehicle. pic.twitter.com/eajLbXohXm” did you guys have to put a filter on it? Lol

— Famous (@FantasyxFAME) January 20, 2014


Similarly, photos posted by the New York Fire Department of last week’s East Harlem gas explosion, which killed eight people and injured more than 70, cropped up with vintage-like wash.


Now: #FDNY continues work at the scene of the 5-alarm fire/collapse at 1644 & 1646 Park Ave., in East Harlem. pic.twitter.com/AioMk0JkCp

— FDNY (@FDNY) March 13, 2014



Now: Photo of #Manhattan collapse. #FDNY has 39 units and 168 members responding. The scene is developing. pic.twitter.com/zWhTmi9Dsm

— FDNY (@FDNY) March 12, 2014


The FDNY denied using a filter on one particular photo of last week’s building collapse saying, “The smoke is what makes the photo look like that. No filter used.”

The FDNY’s director of public information, Jim Long, said he took the photos “straight up,” on his phone, adding “I’m really incapable of doing anything magical like Instagram.”

“Our policy in general is we provide unseen photos that are authentic and we share them through the medium of social media platform,” Long said.


Now: #FDNY at the scene of the 5-alarm fire and collapse in #Manhattan. pic.twitter.com/GxkaNLzqqq

— FDNY (@FDNY) March 12, 2014


The FDNY’s social media director, Emily Rahimi said the look of the image could be attributed to a number of other factors like the conditions of the day and smoke.

“Anytime we take a photo, I’m very sensitive about posting them on Instagram because we don’t want to make them looking sensationalize someone’s emergency,” Rahimi said.

But some on social media weren’t convinced.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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