Firefighters are rescuers specifically trained to extinguish fires that threaten life, property, and environment. They are also trained to rescue people, and in some cases or jurisdictions, also save animals from life-threatening situations.
For these reasons, firefighters work under pressure, and often put their lives on the line.
And among other reasons, this is why firefighting can be considered a heroic job.
But when it comes to income, firefighters are just like most other people out there. In order to make ends meet, for example, or to accomplish certain goals, sometimes, people have to do more than one job to simply earn more money.
This is the case with a 33-year-old fire sergeant in Wakayama City Kita Fire Department in Japan.
The firefighter working in Kimetsu City in Chiba Perfecture is said to have violated the fire department's policy against having side business.
Because of this, he was penalized by having 10% of his monthly salary docked.
This translates to 40,000 yen less for the month.
The man's salary was cut in punishment for contravening a law limiting public workers' engagement in commercial activities.
"We don't necessarily think it's a bad thing that he was a YouTuber," said city official Hidetaka Amano. "But it's the fact he was profiting from ads, some of which could be inappropriate in nature."
His actions had "betrayed the trust of residents in Wakayama", the city official added, while making public apology in front of the press, bowing before the cameras.
It all began when the fire department received an anonymous tip who told that "there may be a firefighter who might be moonlighting on YouTube."
When an investigation was initiated, it was realized that December 2020 and October 2021, the fire sergeant posted 314 videos to his YouTube channel, which included many gaming live streams.
The sergeant is said to have specialized in streaming the "Among Us" game.
During that time frame, the firefighter garnered more than 2 million views and tens of thousands of subscribers, and according to estimates, he reportedly got 1.15 million yen in revenue.
After his side job was discovered by his superiors, the fire sergeant apologized and said that he simply didn’t know that his activity was included as being in violation of the fire department’s policy.
While brainstorming for ways to earn more money is nothing wrong, there are rules that are against having side jobs.
And in Japan, the rules apply to all civil servants and many private workers.
The rules are made for many reasons, in particular, they are meant to prevent conflicts of interest, and ensuring those with crucial roles like firefighting stay focused on their jobs.
After the news reached the public, many commented about the case, saying that there are lots of grey areas.
For example, there are no clear boundaries which separate earning money from working, and earning money from having a hobby.
And in this case, if the fire sergeant simply demonetized his YouTube channel, in order for him to not earn any money, would he still be allowed to run it as he had been?
Would he get a salary cut because of this?
It's worth noting that the firefighter never appeared on screen in his videos.
What's known of his from the videos, is only his voice.
In order to verify the anonymous tipper, local officials had to painstakingly comb through the many clips to get clear vocal clues in order to find the real identity of the YouTube account owner.
Once the officials got all the clues, they confronted the unfortunately firefighter, who admitted to the allegations.
"My recognition of what would be considered a second job was naive,” the firefighter is quoted as saying.