Fire Engineering Training Community

Where firefighters come to talk training

Do you have a Social Netwoking Policy? In Colleton County, a South Carolina paramedic and firefighter was fired earlier this month because of a video he posted on Facebook. Brown’s situation is similar to an increasing number of disciplinary actions being taken against firefighters for social networking. The case shows the challenge that fire service leaders and firefighters face in dealing with social media issues. What appears to be uncontroverted is that Brown created an animated video at a web site, xtranormal.com, on which you can create cartoon-like characters, type in a script, and the characters will speak in a robotic-like language. The video involved two characters, a white firefighter and a black doctor, set in the emergency department of a hospital.  

 

There are thousands of social networking sites other than Facebook, Twitter, My Space, Linkedin, with some of the thousands to inlcude: Advogato, Amie Street, ANobii, aSmallWorld, Athlinks , The Auteurs, Avatars United, BabyCenter, Badoo, Bebo, Bigadda, BigTent, Biip, BlackPlanet, Blogster, Bolt.com, Books iRead, Buzznet, CafeMom, Cake Financial, Care2, Cellufun, Classmates.com, Cloob, CollegeBlender, CouchSurfing, DailyBooth, DailyStrength, Decayenne, deviantART, DigitalVerse.org, Disaboom, Dol2day, DontStayIn, Draugiem.lv, Elftown, Epernicus, Eons.com, Experience Project, Exploroo, Facebook, Faceparty, Faces.com, Fetlife, Fillos de Galicia, FilmAffinity, FledgeWing, Flixster, Flickr, Fotolog, Foursquare, Friends Reunited, Friendster, Frühstückstreff, Fubar, Gaia Online, GamerDNA, Gather.com, Gays.com, Geni.com, Gogoyoko, Goodreads, Google Buzz, Gossipreport.com, Grono.net, Habbo, hi5, Hospitality Club, Hyves, Ibibo LinkedIn, Listography, LiveJournal, Meetup.com, and Meettheboss.   

 

Is a policy needed? Most certainly. Do you have one that you are willing to share? Please do.

 

Twitter with caution

 

Be Safe

 

John

Views: 760

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Some one had mentioned this the other day on how their department had an SOG on this very same issue and were not allowed to mention the name of the department or create a website pertaining to the name of the said dept without explicit written consent form the BOD/Comminsioners/Chief.

I'll see if I can find it on here.
Found it in this group so just follow the link Fire Law Forum with Legal Experts Discussions

Knew I remembered reading it but I thought it was in a forum instead of a group.
Brad

Thanks for the link. Private sector is slightly more permissive with their employee’s use of the social networks as there is some advantage to advertising the company product. It would be hard to restrict the use of personal computers, handhelds and other communication devices but Policy should regulate and guide its usage.

Below are some suggested policies that you can incorporate into an official company policy:

1) The absence of, or lack of explicit reference to a specific site does not limit the extent of the application of this policy. Where no policy or guidelines exist, employees should use their professional judgment and take the most prudent action possible. Consult with your manager or supervisor if you are uncertain.

2) Personal blogs should have clear disclaimers that the views expressed by the author in the blog is the author’s alone and do not represent the views of the company. Be clear and write in first person. Make your writing clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the company.

3) Information published on your blog(s) should comply with the company’s confidentiality and disclosure of proprietary data policies. This also applies to comments posted on other blogs, forums, and social networking sites.

4) Be respectful to the company, other employees, customers, partners, and competitors.

5) Social media activities should not interfere with work commitments. Refer to IT resource usage policies.

6) Your online presence reflects the company. Be aware that your actions captured via images, posts, or comments can reflect that of our company.

7) Do not reference or site company clients, partners, or customers without their express consent. In all cases, do not publish any information regarding a client during the engagement.

8) Respect copyright laws, and reference or cite sources appropriately. Plagiarism applies online as well.

9) Company logos and trademarks may not be used without written consent.

Remember that this is only a sample and framework for social media policies. In developing policies and procedures for your company, you should tailor the language to reflect the culture and the company environment. Depending on the usage of social media, policies should be more or less explicit, particularly in defining terms.
I recently had a similar problem with a junior member on my department albeit on a much smaller scale. He only crated a "group" on facebook that used the department's name. The Chief and I met with him explained the dangers to our reputation and asked him to remove the group which he did the next day. So now I am trying to write a new policy concerning this same issue.
A cousin of mine works in Baltimore Co. and one of the brothers wrote something bad on their facebook page about a person who was higher ranking, which in turn got him into trouble because someone else saw it and reported him.

This is dangerous territory and you often are flirting with disaster when you post stuff you shouldn't on a social network site.
Tweet with care. We are going to see a lot more of these violations of real policy OR the individual departments take offense at the material posted about the department or individual personalities. There are available Polices and Guidelines related to this issue and departments have to take the time and energy to research and design Policy and Guidelines for their organizations.

It's difficult to discipline someone if you do not have a policy to back you up - or you should have a policy to enable the firefighters and staff to engage on the social networks. It’s only going to get worse as the social networking is an avenue to blow off steam

Once your rant is out there, it never goes away!!

Tread lightly my brothers and sisters. People are reading your stuff.
Israel Defense Forces called off a raid in Palestinian territory

Here is an extreme example of the need for policy and some control related to social networking.

The Israel Defense Forces called off a raid in Palestinian territory after a soldier posted details, including the time and place, on the social networking website Facebook, Army Radio reported on Wednesday. The soldier - since relieved of combat duty - described in a status update how his unit planned a "clean-up" arrest raid in a West Bank area, Army Radio said. "On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home," the soldier wrote on his Facebook page, referring to a West Bank village near Ramallah. The soldier also disclosed the name of the combat unit, the place of the operation and the time it will take place. Facebook friends then reported him to military authorities.

Are you impressed with the need for policy and guidelines? Although we do not provide this type of "service" to our communities, what of the firefighter who posts a horrific job with photos for all to see? What should the discipline incorporate on this breach of confidentiality?
My personal opinion is that when I am at my house I should be able to post anything I want. I understand not using the department name and things like that but I think it is time for the companies to butt out of my personal life away from work. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?
My orders came through. My squadron ships out tomorrow. We're bombing the storage depots at Daiquiri at 1800 hours. We're coming in from the north, below their radar.

When will you be back?

I can't tell you that. It's classified.
Airplane!
Steve

If the conduct occurs at your personal residence, and it affects your employer your conduct does come under some scrutiny by your employer. I am not sure if Mr. Brown created this video on duty or off duty, but the effects on Mr. Brown are devastating to him and his family and it began the debate related to social networking policies.

At the recent EMS Conference in Baltimore, Steve Wirth, of Page, Wolfberg & Wirth LLC, a national EMS-industry law firm, discussing the Brown dismissal told a session at the conference that employees of public agencies — unlike private — do have some constitutional rights in the workplace. "It does include the right to speak out on matters of public concern. But the same protection does not apply to matters of private concern, including employment related issues and grievances about work policy generally," he said. Wirth said elements of the video — which Brown said he created to highlight the frustrations EMS providers can face — could be deemed as dealing with matters of public concern; specifically responders' time being tied up with minor calls.

He told the session while it could be deemed as "protected speech," parts of the video that did not involve matters of public concern could be used as reasons for dismissal. Steve Wirth discussed this issue at length indicating that there are certain elements of Mr. Brown’s conduct which lead to his termination could be upheld in any pending litigation.

This is a major issue for employer’s right to manage the social media postings by their employees and as you see in my posting above you and in other news around the country. For example, a Fire Capt. detailed to the Philadelphia Fire Department's recruitment team, was placed on paid leave over allegations that he proposed a scheme to bring in more minority candidates by doctoring the city's computerized application process through email. There is obviously a lot more detail to this issue, but you get the point.

Protected speech is our constitutional right – although a limited right in certain situations.
Be safe
The policy at both my paid and Vollie Departments are the same. You cant release anything run related (to include any calls you went on other than general information available to the public, scene photos, comments, etc) with out the Chief’s OK. Having seen some of the video that gets put out there that shows bad tactics, near misses and buildings getting burned more that they needed to, I’m amazed that more Departments don’t get sued just because of their own video. A little adult supervision in this area can save you a lot of money and pain latter.

Steven Scalia said:
My personal opinion is that when I am at my house I should be able to post anything I want. I understand not using the department name and things like that but I think it is time for the companies to butt out of my personal life away from work. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?
Just using this one case, I can't see where this would affect the employer. I am looking at this one case and not the big picture but I do understand protecting your department. I really just don't where Mr Brown did wrong. I may be just to nearsighted on this issue too.


John K. Murphy said:
Steve

If the conduct occurs at your personal residence, and it affects your employer your conduct does come under some scrutiny by your employer. I am not sure if Mr. Brown created this video on duty or off duty, but the effects on Mr. Brown are devastating to him and his family and it began the debate related to social networking policies.

At the recent EMS Conference in Baltimore, Steve Wirth, of Page, Wolfberg & Wirth LLC, a national EMS-industry law firm, discussing the Brown dismissal told a session at the conference that employees of public agencies — unlike private — do have some constitutional rights in the workplace. "It does include the right to speak out on matters of public concern. But the same protection does not apply to matters of private concern, including employment related issues and grievances about work policy generally," he said. Wirth said elements of the video — which Brown said he created to highlight the frustrations EMS providers can face — could be deemed as dealing with matters of public concern; specifically responders' time being tied up with minor calls.

He told the session while it could be deemed as "protected speech," parts of the video that did not involve matters of public concern could be used as reasons for dismissal. Steve Wirth discussed this issue at length indicating that there are certain elements of Mr. Brown’s conduct which lead to his termination could be upheld in any pending litigation.

This is a major issue for employer’s right to manage the social media postings by their employees and as you see in my posting above you and in other news around the country. For example, a Fire Capt. detailed to the Philadelphia Fire Department's recruitment team, was placed on paid leave over allegations that he proposed a scheme to bring in more minority candidates by doctoring the city's computerized application process through email. There is obviously a lot more detail to this issue, but you get the point.

Protected speech is our constitutional right – although a limited right in certain situations.
Be safe

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Policy Page

CONTRIBUTORS NOTE

Our contributors' posts are not vetted by the Fire Engineering technical board, and reflect the views and opinions of the individual authors. Anyone is welcome to participate.

For vetted content, please go to www.fireengineering.com/archives.

Fire Engineering Editor in Chief Bobby Halton
We are excited to have you participate in our discussions and interactive forums. Before you begin posting, please take a moment to read our policy page HERE. -- Bobby Halton

Be Alert for Spam
We actively monitor the community for spam, however some does slip through. Please use common sense and caution when clicking links. If you suspect you've been hit by spam, e-mail peter.prochilo@clarionevents.com.

FE Podcasts


Check out the most recent episode and schedule of
UPCOMING PODCASTS

© 2019   Created by fireeng.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service