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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
eBay Auction of '9/11' Helmet Shut Down After Outcry From Fire Service

Updated: 03-21-2005 06:15:21 PM
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Ebay

Ebay

Ebay

HEATHER CASPI
Firehouse.Com News

Discuss The Topic: In Firehouse.com Fourms Section
Firefighters were fuming Monday after a fire helmet purportedly from the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks appeared on eBay for an asking price of $10,000.

The seller wrote that he is a firefighter who volunteered at Ground Zero after the attacks and that he found the helmet near the site. However, the seller's former rescue squad in Virginia suspects the helmet belongs to them.

"We're 99 percent sure it's ours," said Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad vice president Tommy Harrison. "We had no idea about this sale, and we'd actually like our helmet back."

The seller suggested in his eBay ad, "This would be a perfect gift for a family member of someone who was lost in the unfortunate events that occurred on this tragic day." He added, "This helmet is 100% AUTHENTIC, and I can provide as much proof as possible."

EBay officials pulled the ad Monday because it violated their "prohibited items and offensive materials" policy. "With respect to 9/11, we don't allow any items that could be considered part of the rubble," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. He said this was the second time eBay has pulled an ad for that helmet.

However, according to Firehouse.com forum members who contacted the seller, the helmet is still available for private sale.

The yellow helmet that was shown in the ad, with a blue band and the words "Rescue Squad," is not an FDNY helmet. The ad did not specifically claim the helmet belonged to an FDNY firefighter killed in the 9/11 attacks, but implied the connection by listing the helmet as, "Fire-Fighter Helmet from World Trade Center on 9/11."

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said he did not recognize the helmet pictured in the ad.

"Within the five boroughs of New York City, and the jurisdiction of the New York City Fire Department, no one wears a helmet like that," he said.

He suggested that if the helmet was really found near Ground Zero, it may have belonged to a fire buff or collector rather than a working firefighter. "Maybe if it was found at Ground Zero, maybe that's the case," he said.

Regardless of whether the helmet has a legitimate connection to FDNY or the World Trade Center attacks, Long disapproved of the attempt to profit from the item under those implications. "It's insensitive, and it's callous disregard for those lives that were lost and the families that lost their loved ones," he said.

The seller did not reply to Firehouse.com for comment, but did reply to Firehouse.com users who e-mailed him for more information about the helmet. According to one message, the seller found the helmet at Ground Zero in the wreckage on the north side of the first tower that was hit. He said he got permission from an officer to keep it as a memento.

After Firehouse.com's inquiry Monday, and before eBay removed the ad, the seller lowered his asking price to $2,500 and shortened the auction deadline by two days. There were no bids at the time the ad was removed.

The seller had also added a note to the listing that read, "This eBay auction will be featured in Firehouse magazine!! How about that for publicity!! Thanks guys!! This could quite possibly be the most controversial item sold on eBay."

Firehouse.com quickly requested the seller remove the statement, and received a profane e-mail. However, the 'publicity' comments were removed by the seller shortly before the entire auction was removed by eBay.

Firefighters on the Firehouse.com forums did consider the sale controversial. In addition to sharing their colorful comments, several firefighters sought the seller's contact information.

If the seller used his real name in e-mail communications about prior sales -- which appears to be the case -- he is a former member of the Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad in Virginia. Harrison said he doesn't know whether the former member volunteered at Ground Zero, but that he left the squad a few years ago and still has some of their equipment.

Harrison said it's an interesting coincidence that his rescue squad wears similar yellow helmets and is called Company 14, and that the yellow helmet for sale has the number 14 on it, although the sticker for the 1 has been removed.

"Even if [the helmet] was the real thing, selling it for a profit doesn't sit well with me," Harrison said.

This is not the first time someone has tried to list items or pieces of wreckage from Ground Zero on eBay, Durzy said.

He said there are about 40 million items for sale on eBay at any given time, and about 4 million new items are listed each day. EBay officials don't check each ad before it goes online, but they do police the ads and listen to community feedback. "9/11 items are high on our list of policies we don't want to see violated," Durzy said.

He added that eBay also discourages ads that imply something about an item in order to increase its value.

"The marketplace is remarkably self-regulating," he said. "In other words, items that are purposely vague about their origin or about what it might or might not be, tend not to draw a whole lot of bids anyway because buyers tend to be smarter than that."

http://cms.firehouse.com/forums2/sh...ae77f0&threadid=68083&perpage=15&pagenumber=1
 

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I remember some dirtbag from Maine was charged with stealing a FDNY Firefighters Jacket. I think a criminal complaint should be filed in this case.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
eBay Seller Says Controversial Auction of '9/11' Helmet Was A 'Joke'
Rescue Squad Seeking Charges, Seller Suggests Entire Incident was 'Joke'

Updated: 03-22-2005 04:28:04 PM
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Ebay

Ebay

Ebay

HEATHER CASPI
Firehouse.Com News

Discuss The Topic: In Firehouse.com Fourms Section
The eBay seller who triggered an outcry by posting a "9/11" firefighter helmet for sale for $10,000 admitted Tuesday that the helmet is his own, and claims the auction was a joke.

The seller originally wrote that he is a firefighter who volunteered at Ground Zero and that he found the helmet near the site. He also wrote that he needed to sell the helmet to pay for college. However, after an onslaught of negative feedback, he told Firehouse.com, "It was all a huge joke."

The seller, whose name is being witheld due to the backlash, said he and his friends got the idea to auction off a helmet after seeing the recent eBay auction of a flag flown at the Pentagon.

"It was a dinner bet," he said, "to take me out to dinner and see how much publicity I could get. I won," he said. The seller claims that although eBay pulled his auction Monday, he received three private offers for the helmet, including a bid of $28,000. He said he never intended to go through with a sale.

Joke or no joke, the auction appears to have brought the seller more publicity than he intended, and it didn't take long for his former rescue squad in Virginia to identify the purported "9/11" helmet as one of their own.

After seeing the photos posted online Monday, Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad Vice President Tommy Harrison told Firehouse.com, "We're 99 percent sure it's ours. We had no idea about this sale, and we'd actually like our helmet back."

On Tuesday, PVRS Chief Sheila Williams told Firehouse.com that the squad would be pursuing charges and attempting to recover the helmet and other gear from the former member.

Williams said the helmet is one of the squad's older ones, not their current model. She said the seller either took the helmet from the squad before he left, which was prior to 9/11, or that he did get it at Ground Zero, because a local search and rescue member brought old PVRS gear to the site after 9/11.

Either way, the former member has failed to return the helmet and other property to the squad, Williams said.

"Not returning gear is theft so yes, we are pursuing that," she said. "There are a lot of upset people. That was a raw day for us. To use our equipment in that way to make a profit is disgusting."

After the chief's complaints, the seller told Firehouse.com that he would be returning the gear to the rescue squad. He said the gear was not stolen, because the squad had never asked him to return it. He said he is not currently affiliated with any fire or rescue service.

At times during the interview, the seller asked where else the story would appear and didn't apologize for the anger that was provoked by the auction.

The controversy began when the seller originally suggested in his eBay ad, "This would be a perfect gift for a family member of someone who was lost in the unfortunate events that occurred on this tragic day." He added, "This helmet is 100% AUTHENTIC, and I can provide as much proof as possible."

EBay officials pulled the ad Monday because it violated their "prohibited items and offensive materials" policy. "With respect to 9/11, we don't allow any items that could be considered part of the rubble," said eBay spokesman Hani Durzy. He said this was the second time eBay has pulled an ad for that helmet.

However, according to Firehouse.com forum members who contacted the seller, the helmet was still available for sale late Monday night.

The yellow helmet that was shown in the ad, with a blue band and the words "Rescue Squad," is not an FDNY helmet. The ad did not specifically claim the helmet belonged to an FDNY firefighter killed in the 9/11 attacks, but implied the connection by listing the helmet as, "Fire-Fighter Helmet from World Trade Center on 9/11."

FDNY spokesman Jim Long said he did not recognize the helmet pictured in the ad.

"Within the five boroughs of New York City, and the jurisdiction of the New York City Fire Department, no one wears a helmet like that," he said.

He suggested that if the helmet was really found near Ground Zero, it may have belonged to a fire buff or collector rather than a working firefighter. "Maybe if it was found at Ground Zero, maybe that's the case," he said.

Regardless of whether the helmet has a legitimate connection to FDNY or the World Trade Center attacks, Long disapproved of the attempt to profit from the item under those implications. "It's insensitive, and it's callous disregard for those lives that were lost and the families that lost their loved ones," he said.

The seller did not reply to Firehouse.com for comment, but did reply to Firehouse.com users who e-mailed him for more information about the helmet. According to one message, the seller found the helmet at Ground Zero in the wreckage on the north side of the first tower that was hit. He said he got permission from an officer to keep it as a memento.

After Firehouse.com's inquiry Monday, and before eBay removed the ad, the seller lowered his asking price to $2,500 and shortened the auction deadline by two days. There were no bids at the time the ad was removed.

The seller had also added a note to the listing that read, "This eBay auction will be featured in Firehouse magazine!! How about that for publicity!! Thanks guys!! This could quite possibly be the most controversial item sold on eBay."

Firehouse.com quickly requested the seller remove the statement, and received a profane e-mail. However, the 'publicity' comments were removed by the seller shortly before the entire auction was removed by eBay.

Firefighters on the Firehouse.com forums did consider the sale controversial. In addition to sharing their colorful comments, several firefighters sought the seller's contact information.

If the seller used his real name in e-mail communications about prior sales -- which appears to be the case -- he is a former member of the Purcellville Volunteer Rescue Squad in Virginia. Harrison said he doesn't know whether the former member volunteered at Ground Zero, but that he left the squad a few years ago and still has some of their equipment.

Harrison said it's an interesting coincidence that his rescue squad wears similar yellow helmets and is called Company 14, and that the yellow helmet for sale has the number 14 on it, although the sticker for the 1 has been removed.

"Even if [the helmet] was the real thing, selling it for a profit doesn't sit well with me," Harrison said.

This is not the first time someone has tried to list items or pieces of wreckage from Ground Zero on eBay, Durzy said.

He said there are about 40 million items for sale on eBay at any given time, and about 4 million new items are listed each day. EBay officials don't check each ad before it goes online, but they do police the ads and listen to community feedback. "9/11 items are high on our list of policies we don't want to see violated," Durzy said.

He added that eBay also discourages ads that imply something about an item in order to increase its value.

"The marketplace is remarkably self-regulating," he said. "In other words, items that are purposely vague about their origin or about what it might or might not be, tend not to draw a whole lot of bids anyway because buyers tend to be smarter than that."
 
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