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My fire department recently adopted a policy that appears to restrict all use of the District and Department names in any way on the internet (copy of policy with names redacted follows).  This was done in an apparent response to a member who created an unofficial facebook page under the department's name.  What degree of control can the board/administration legally impose on members when it comes to listing an affiliation?  I can see the issue about the site that gives the appearance of an "official" presence, but restricting all use of the department's name seems a bit ridiculous and may infringe on my rights under the first amendment for free speech....

 

Policy

USE OF THE WORDS " _______ FIRE DISTRiCT"

AND "­­­­­__________ FIRE DEPARTMENT"

ON INTERNET OR OTHER COMMUMICATIONS SYSTEMS

WITHOUT AUTHORIZATION

 

Officers, members and employees are not permitted to utilize the words

"_____________ Fire District" and/or "_____________ Fire Department" on any Internet

sites, blogs, Facebook, My Space, or similar pages or resources set up for

communications on the Internet or on other communications systems

without the express permission of the Board of Fire Commissioners.

 

The _____________ Fire District is a political subdivision of the State of _______

and the _____________ Fire Department is a volunteer fire department operating

under the auspices of the _____________ Fire District to provide governmental

services to the _____________ community. As such, it is important for the Board

of Fire Commissioners to make certain that the public is not mislead into

believing that some communications resource is an official resource of the

district and or department that is authorized to provide official information

when it is not.

 

The only way to prevent the spread of misinformation in this regard is for

the Board to control the dissemination of information under the official

name of the district and department.

 

Nothing contained herein shall prevent officers, members and employees

from using their personal computer and communications resources to

participate in communications on the Internet and other communications

system as long as they do not do so under the name of the "_____________ Fire

District" and/or "_____________ Fire Department", and as long as they do not

communicate privileged or confidential district or department information

or otherwise communicate in a manner that violates this policy.

 

Views: 706

Replies to This Discussion

John,

Have you had any response to this question? I am researching social media policy for the my dept.

Thanks,

Sylvia

Thanks for the post. Nobody has responded yet to this post (but lots has been happening in the courts about photos, comments about employers, etc. being posted on Youtube, Facebook, etc. recently).  As for my agency, the above policy is still in force - the latest new wrinkle is a dialogue about the use of personal "helmet cams" and whether or not they should be allowed...good luck with your efforts.

John- John Murphy here on FE , has wriiten a blog concerning this issue , we recently ran into this issue and create a policy , that states they can post pictures , But as to using the Fire Department name it can not be usedor posted unless the Chief or HR Commissioner approves it. We tryed to flexible not irrate the troops

Thanks for the response...I attended John's session (and Chip Comstock's and Kurt Varone's) at FDIC on these general issues...as the whole concept of social media gets more mainstream, its acceptance as "necessary" seems to be softening the stance of at least our board...posting of pictures is a particularly interesting topic, particularly with some recent disciplinary actions related to inappropriate photos being posted...does your policy specify who owns the pictures if they are taken while on duty? According to what I recall, if they are taken on duty, they may be "discoverable" in a legal proceeding and therefore procedures must be put in place to ensure their retention and to prevent spoiliation...


From what I have now learend, what my Board adopted seems to not infringe on any constitutional rights...


Can you email me a copy of your department's policy?  cfdsyarborough@columbiasc.net  I am really concerned over what I see on Facebook on my coworkers pages.  Photos that contain other people's personal information, street address, license tags, description of victims. It is one thing to take pics / post info as a citizen, but outside of Training use, it opens up a huge liablity for our department.

Mike France said:  

John- John Murphy here on FE , has wriiten a blog concerning this issue , we recently ran into this issue and create a policy , that states they can post pictures , But as to using the Fire Department name it can not be usedor posted unless the Chief or HR Commissioner approves it. We tryed to flexible not irrate the troops
Sylvia, I have requested a template from the "FireLaw Guys" that was presented at FDIC - I will email it to you when it is recieved from them...in the interim, the text I posted as the lead-in to this thread is my department's policy word for word (minus the name, so I don't violat the policy...hahaha)...stay safe.

Sylvia Yarborough said:


Can you email me a copy of your department's policy?  cfdsyarborough@columbiasc.net  I am really concerned over what I see on Facebook on my coworkers pages.  Photos that contain other people's personal information, street address, license tags, description of victims. It is one thing to take pics / post info as a citizen, but outside of Training use, it opens up a huge liablity for our department.

Mike France said:  

John- John Murphy here on FE , has wriiten a blog concerning this issue , we recently ran into this issue and create a policy , that states they can post pictures , But as to using the Fire Department name it can not be usedor posted unless the Chief or HR Commissioner approves it. We tryed to flexible not irrate the troops

The IAFC released a Social Media model policy for the fire service. It can be found at http://www.iafc.org/displayindustryarticle.cfm?articlenbr=45790

 

Full disclosure: I helped craft the policy and am a big proponent of social media as a marketing tool for the fire service. It is unfortunate that one affect that social media can have is to broadcast the mistakes of a few members of emergency services who would have otherwise made the same errors on a local scale. Still bad, but not national news bad.

Thanks for the resource/link.  Stay Safe!

Rommie L Duckworth said:

The IAFC released a Social Media model policy for the fire service. It can be found at http://www.iafc.org/displayindustryarticle.cfm?articlenbr=45790

 

Full disclosure: I helped craft the policy and am a big proponent of social media as a marketing tool for the fire service. It is unfortunate that one affect that social media can have is to broadcast the mistakes of a few members of emergency services who would have otherwise made the same errors on a local scale. Still bad, but not national news bad.

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