Rantz: Seattle Fire chief bans ‘brown out’, pretends it’s a racist term

Jun 14, 2022, 5:30 PM

The chief of the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) is banning the term “brown out” to describe unstaffed units. He implies the term is racist.

According to a June 13 memo, obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, chief Harold Scoggins said the SFD “will no longer use the term ‘brown out’ when describing department apparatus that aren’t in service.” The department will use the term “units unstaffed” moving forward.

The term “brown out” means a portion of the total staffing, such as a medical unit, is offline. After the city sidelined unvaccinated firefighters, units have routinely gone unstaffed.

Citing unspecified “concerns,” Scoggins claims the term is offensive to communities of color.

Except, it isn’t. And the SFD has not yet been able to provide any documentation to back up the claim.

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Pretending ‘brown out’ is offensive

The memo caught the staff off guard. They didn’t know the chief was pretending the term “brown out” is offensive.

“Concerns were raised that the term ‘brown out’ has negative connotations for communities of color. This change has been made to reaffirm SFD’s commitment and mission to serve all communities with dignity and respect,” Scoggins wrote.

The chief asked staff to “ensure that any formal or informal communications going forward, whether in department emails, memos, etc., uses ‘units unstaffed’ to refer to engine, trucks, aid cars, medic units, etc., that are unavailable due to staffing.”

In addition to asking the SFD to explain who complained about the term, I asked how it’s offensive. A spokesperson did not respond before publication. If they respond, I will add details.

No, the term doesn’t have negative connotations

The term “brown out” does not have “negative connotations for communities of color.” This is a wholly contrived issue that the chief is using to signal his wokeness. It’s as if he was under pressure to show his commitment to “equity” but couldn’t think of any that are woke enough, so he made up an issue for the pats on the back he’ll no doubt receive

A cursory internet search yields zero stories nationally or internationally with claims the term is problematic. While I believe there could be one or two race-baiting extremists who make this claim, it’s not based on any kind of reality.

With very few exceptions, the term itself has literally nothing to do with race. Just because “brown” is in it, doesn’t mean that it’s inherently racial. “Blackouts” aren’t offensive because it includes “black” in the phrase; it merely means lights are out.

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Woke politics ignore the serious staffing crisis

SFD has serious staffing issues due to the frequent brown outs.

As staff is burning out when they take on extra shifts, the department risks not being able to respond quickly to emergencies, and the city is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime to address the issue. When the city enforced the vaccine mandate, which didn’t stop the spread of COVID, they created a staffing nightmare. They’ve done little to address it as Seattle Police Department staffing issues garner more attention.

Rather than address actual issues, Scoggins legitimizes a remarkably stupid claim about the racism of “brown outs.” He’s outed himself as an unserious man who shouldn’t lead a department in desperate need of leadership.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Seattle Fire chief bans ‘brown out’, pretends it’s a racist term