Telegram photographer Keith Gosse has been awarded second place in the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Media Awards news photography category.
His winning entry, “Orphanage Fire,” shows two St. John’s Regional Fire Department (SJRFD) firefighters surrounded by billowing smoke during the fire at the former Belvedere orphanage in April 2017.
Gosse’s entry placed behind an entry from the Boston Globe in Boston, Mass., and is one of only two Canadian winners in the North American-wide contest.
“It’s really nice to be recognized for something like this,” said Gosse. “But it’s the emergency responders, the first responders, that really deserve the recognition for the stressful and difficult work that they do. I’m just the guy who takes photos, and these men and women are the ones who do all the work.”
The IAFF Media Awards honours reporting and photography that best portray professional firefighters and paramedics as dedicated, all-hazards responders.
Local unions across North America must sponsor all submissions. Local 1075 represents SJRFD firefighters, and union president Craig Smith sponsored Gosse’s entry.
Smith said every year a shortlist of entries from St. John’s is submitted to the contest, which is open to all 3,200 locals across North America.
“When I saw Keith’s photo – a shot of two firefighters in a bucket working, filled with smoke around them – for me, personally, it gave an appreciation of actually what a firefighter would do if they were in a particular situation,” said Smith.
Smith said both Telegram photographers, Keith Gosse and Joe Gibbons, are sensitive to the work of first responders.
“We appreciate what they do because they’re actually allowing the public to see a different side of scenes. … They’re respectful not only for our job on scene, but they’re also very respectful for the victims that we’re there for, and that’s important for us, to show respect and some dignity.”
Gosse said he aims to show readers “how raw and stark it is at emergency scenes, and how our emergency personnel deal with these situations.”
Gosse said he tries to give readers an understanding of what happens at these scenes so they might learn something from it, and hopefully try to avoid such situations themselves.