If you’re a firefighter in Japan, the only thing you can stream is water.

Firefighting in any country is a difficult and heroic job deserving of our respect, but in Japan they also have to put up with incredibly strict protocols. It wasn’t until 2018 that fire department workers in Kimetsu City, Chiba Prefecture were allowed to buy a coffee while in uniform.

Even off-duty they have to be very careful about what they do, as one 33-year-old fire sergeant with the Wakayama City Kita Fire Department realized. In October of last year, the department received an anonymous tip that the sergeant had “a side job on YouTube” and an investigation was launched.

It was learned that between December, 2020 and October, 2021 the fire sergeant posted 314 videos his own YouTube channel including many gaming live streams. He must have been pretty good too because he garnered a total of roughly 2.27 million views during that time. Also, thanks to YouTube’s monetizing policy, he reportedly got 1.15 million yen (US$10,000) in revenue.

▼ The sergeant is said to have specialized in streaming Among Us

The fire sergeant apologized for the transgression, saying he was simply didn’t realize that this activity was included as being in violation of the fire department’s policy against taking side business. He was nevertheless penalized by having 10% of his monthly salary docked, which estimated from the national average salary for a fire sergeant, would be a loss of about 40,000 yen ($350)

Readers of the news mostly felt the rule against side jobs was in need of reform, and many were in awe of the fire sergeant’s range of skills in both public safety and entertainment.

“He’s a pretty talented guy.”
“I don’t really see what was wrong with what he did.”
“The whole ‘no side job’ rule is pretty outdated, isn’t it?”
“A million yen in less that a year is pretty good!”
“He’s probably better off becoming a full-time streamer.”
“Since the chances of any of us getting pensions is disappearing, the rule against side businesses is completely unreasonable.”
“So if he invests his money without producing anything of value himself, that’s okay?”

This rule against side jobs, which applies to all civil servants in Japan – and many private workers too does have some valid reasons, such as preventing conflicts of interest and ensuring those with crucial roles like firefighting stay focused on them. But as some of the comments mentioned, there are a lot of grey areas, namely: Where do you draw the line between a hobby and a job?

If the fire sergeant simply demonetized his YouTube channel, would he still be allowed to run it as he had been? If so, what really changes then, aside from YouTube keeping 100 percent the revenue that he generates?

What constitutes “work” is changing as we speak, so it’s important for the rules employees have to abide by to change at the same pace. Otherwise, we risk loosing more and more valuable first responders to the tempting allure of game streaming.

Source: MBS News, Itai News
Top image: Pakutaso
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