Florida man posing as firefighter was arrested for starting library fire, tells police he wanted to put the fire out and be a big hero

Florida_brannenWe can all agree, that if you watch¬†Backdraft five times in row, you will have the sudden¬†urge to go out and start fires, big fires, huge infernos, just so you can be the baddass hero, and put them out. “You go…I go” type sh#t. Am I right?

Meet Joseph Brannen of Brooksville, Florida. He was recently arrested for allegedly starting a fire at the East Hernando Branch Library. Brannen confessed to Hernando County Sheriff deputies that he intentionally started the fire at the library.

When asked why he did it, Brannen responded, “I just bought a bunch of cool firefighter gear off of eBay. I wanted to try it out and put the fire out. I want to be a firefighter. I want to be a hero.”

“So you started the fire sooo you could put it out…is that correct?” Deputy asked Brannen.

“Yes.” Brannen responded.

The 18-year-old aspiring firefighter plan was simple–sneak into the library after hours, torch it, and then rush back home to change into his new firefighter gear, wait for the call over the scanner, and then return back to the scene to help put the fire out, along with the first responding firefighters. Unfortunately, for Brannen, dressing like a firefighter doesn’t mean you are a real firefighter. When the teenager appeared back on the scene in his gear he was turned away by the real firefighters and was not allowed near the fire.

Disappointed that he couldn’t participate in putting out the fire, Brannen stood there in the parking lot, fixed, undeterred by the fact that he was the one responsible for the fire, staring, watching the library burn, envisioning himself running out of the black smoke with a baby in one arm and a huge ax in the other, wishing he could be the hero that beats the blaze.

It didn’t take long for investigators to suspect foul play, and it didn’t take investigators long to notice an odd 18-year-old boy dressed head-to-toe in firefighter gear hanging out in the parking lot of the library watching the Hillsborough County firefighters do their thing. And it didn’t take long for investigators to find out that Brannen was poising as a Hillsborough County Firefighter on his Facebook page.

“So I noticed that you posted firefighter as your occupation and Hillsborough County Fire Rescue as your employer on your Facebook page?” Investigator asked Brannen.

“Yes.” He responded.

“Well we know that isn’t true. Why did you do that? Investigator asked Brannen.

“I wrote it because I wanted to work there. I thought if I wrote it..it would happen.” He said.

“Mr. Brannen what compels someone to start a fire so they could act like a firefighter? Actaully, let me back up, why do you want to be a firefighter, Mr. Brannen?” Investigator asked.

“Have you ever seen Backdraft?”

Brannen was charged with second-degree arson and caused an estimated $500,000 worth of damage to the East Hernando Branch Library.


Full Story:Sun Sentinel Florida

***dramatization based on true events