Daycare Teacher Fired After Extinguishing Fire At Center

Florida teacher gets fired after putting out a fire at school.The most important task of a daycare center worker is to keep the children safe. So when Michelle Hammack, (right) a teacher at the Little Temples Childcare facility in Arlington, Fla., smelled smoke and the children were napping, she rushed out of her classroom to investigate. (Arlington is a neighborhood of Jacksonville.)

Seeing that chicken nuggets were burning in an oven, she was able to put out the fire before even the fire trucks arrived on the scene, according to a report by WTEV-TV in Jacksonville. Her boss, however, wasn't impressed. On that same day, the owner of the childcare facility Olga Rozhaov fired Hammack.

Rozhakov defended her decision to the media. "I fired her only because she left her room," she told the TV station. "It's not acceptable, and if anybody else does the same thing, I will fire again. I will fire them. No question."

Hammack, for her part, is taking credit for keeping the kids safe. The fire "probably would have progressed had it not been put out before [the fire trucks arrived]," she told WTEV-TV. She was also able to march her students out of the building to safety. And so, she says, she's being mistreated. "I didn't start the fire. I put it out." She's protested her firing outside the school. Parents have yet to make a comment to the media about her story.

To the Daily Caller, the right-leaning Washington D.C.-based news site, the firing of Hammack was misguided. In fact, the website said the decision to terminate her is proof that "America is clearly wheezing its last ethical gasps."

In response to the WTEV report, the local Department of Children and Families has opened an investigation into the incident.

No matter how her case is resolved, Hammack works in an industry -- child care -- that offers low pay despite the high responsibilities that come with the work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, child-care workers make an average wage of $9.28 an hour. Daycare workers in a handful of states, however, have begun forming unions to bargain for higher reimbursements from state governments. And childcare remains a growing sector as dual-income couples and single-parent households look for help.

Correction: An earlier version of this post referred to Arlington as located outside of Jacksonville.

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we've gone berserk since the onset of blind p c. have we become so lazy we require a code that says just be p c and whatever happens it's not your fault?
it's perverse to penalize someone for doing the right thing. this code of conduct ignores instincts that allows us to employ common sense and act on it.

September 02 2013 at 2:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Turns out the teacher was the one who actually started the fire....I read on another site someone actually called the center and got the story that was cut into from the original news story. Read the update to the story at the bottom of the article.

August 24 2013 at 9:42 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to deepblue432's comment

if the info in your comment is accurate we have a bigger story here. amateur journalism as practiced all over the net. research and confirmation is near zero. there's not much we can do about it other than taking anything we read with a grain of salt.

September 02 2013 at 2:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ahhh, welcome to the McJob life. Part time, minimum wage, no benefits, high responsibility but zero authority, no respect. Any unforeseen or unusual event or situation can force you to make decisions that, while it turns out well, can get you fired for going against a technicality in some rulebook. This lady did exactly what I would do in that situation. The kids are safe and sound, and the school building was probably saved by her actions, what more can you ask for. Job well done. I suppose the idiot manager would have been more pleased if she had just led the children out, and let the school burn to the ground?

August 19 2013 at 8:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The double-standard for day care workers and parents is laughable. Do we stay in the room while our children are napping? Certainly not. While I understand the reasoning for not leaving day care children unattended, this could have been prevented if there had been another adult in the building. Why was she alone? Was she alone? If she was, then the day care owner should be under scrutiny, not this worker.

July 31 2013 at 12:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jan Hansen

today this story hit little denmark.
She did what she should have done. no questions about that. every big fire starts as a small. a kid could have come by and seen the fire and being scared hiding somewhere.. instead of a happy ending for the parrents.. somone could have gotten the call no one wants..
Had she been fired in denmark she would have been rewarded a lot of money for being improperly fired.
also the other story in here about one in black would have been the same.
not every thing is better in the states.. still wish to move there tho :D

July 31 2013 at 3:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

And to think that I once wondered why anyone would refuse to do something that "wasn't in their job description"...

July 30 2013 at 4:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mark Oconnell

my wife works at a day care center,one of the largest in the nation.when she tells me what goes on there i just shake my head.if the parents knew half the crap they would pull there kids of the workers one day wore all black shirt and pants,the district manger came in for an inspection and wanted her fired.the following week they gave out special shirts for the employes to wear for a special tour by corporate you guessed it black shirts.big businesses are so screwed up.

July 29 2013 at 1:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It actually does not surprise me that some people have to throw in politics on this story. What? Really? FYI, politics has not a blasted thing to do with this report. NONE! For you minds full of mush, it's about a Woman being unjustly fired for something She thought She was doing right. To save the lives of the Children. It's sad that the lousy owner could not see that and offer Michelle some praise and even a raise in her pay for what I would see as a very alerted employee. What if the report had been about casualties instead of survivors? People now-a-days have no morals or principles left. Too bad.

July 29 2013 at 1:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

100% wrongful discharge of this Shero.
I think the Parents should pull their children out and boycott this facility until Michelle's job was offered back with a much higher rate of pay. Even if she refused I would not send my children back, period.

July 29 2013 at 1:06 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

Stupidity has no bounds !

July 29 2013 at 12:27 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

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