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Looking for best practices for social media and the fire service...thoughts?

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I think you've hit upon what's going to be a major issue for fire departments in the near future. When you look at some of the recent problems that have occurred with firefighters videotaping EMS calls and using cell phones while at emergency situations clearly were going to need to set some parameters for their use. I think there some basic common sense approaches that should be utilized and some basic moral practices that you would think would prohibit people from sharing some of these more sensitive videos but unfortunately that has not been the case. It's going to be interesting to see how organizations deal with social media on duty. If anyone's had a policy created regarding social media in their departments please share it with us here, or tell us about it.
There is a thread in the discussions called "Social Network Policy; Do you need one. " that was started by John Murphy. Lots of good information.
Thanks for the replies...i think what I was wondering is rather who is using it in a good way? I am sure we can all have the do not...but what DO's are good use of social media? Thoughts?
Personally I think every fire department should have their own Facebook page, should twitter so that members can follow daily updates and should utilize social media to put out information quickly, and from a source that the members can trust. And of course I think they should participate in the fire engineering community!

Shari Simpson said:
Thanks for the replies...i think what I was wondering is rather who is using it in a good way? I am sure we can all have the do not...but what DO's are good use of social media? Thoughts?
Shari, I echo Bobby's thoughts. The positive uses for any social media, far outweigh the bad. We as a society, seem to always look at and blow the bad events up like a balloon. In my opinion, as with most things in our adult life, Common Sense goes a long way, however, that is not so Common anymore. My wife and I have a FB page and the training materials and networking opportunities, allow me to be a better Fire Officer and train my crew to be better firefighters. Social media networks allow us as firefighters to become better skilled at our chosen Profession.
Shari, and others.
What a great topic to bring up especially in the current time of social media giving some departments a black eye., The use of social media can be a tool that brings departments across the country together. With my friend, and brother firefighter we started looking for a way to share training videos through out our department. What started as a small idea has grown, and we ended up putting together a free video website with hundreds of free Fire and EMS videos. This was our tool for puting training videos together for ourselves and department and now it is really staring to grow. If you are interested in checking it out here is the link. Since creating a facebook page for the site and adding local friends, more departments from as far away as Chile have liked the site. Currently the site is getting our training goal out across the country and then some.

Social media is very positive when used appropriatly. We have a combined department and about 6 years ago we designed a web site to help members of our community find safety information as well as keep them informed of what we are doing. The other use for the web site was recruiting - We have had interest and people move to our area from other parts of the country from what they have seen on our web site. We also have a Facebook site.

We have had a couple of helmet cams. The video is used for training purposes only, we advocate to our members that private peoples troubles do not need to be broadcast by the fire department. If we get some video that can benefit the fire community, we will discuss it as a group and then submit it to a trustworthy reputable site.....much like Fire Engineering.

We put a lot of emphasis on being proffessional and maintaining our image in and around our community. We get a lot of support from the surrounding community and a lot of this is due to positive networking. The only caution to use is have a couple of PIO,s give public information out to the public - this way everything is clear and controlled. Some mebers may mean well, but sometimes the filter does not work and the positive message can come out negatively.
Social media is becoming the preferred weapon of choice.
Much of it has to do with the lack of traceability and the anonymity of it.
My point is that it has a very powerful downside to it that can cause real issues for those wanting to use it in a positive way.
So, unless you have a very detailed and very strict social media policy, fire departments will continue to see some very embarrassing moments captured and presented to a world of YouTubers, Tweeters and Facebook users. Those getting caught and disciplined will scream that their Freedom of Speech is being violated, but if you have a very clear social media policy that prohibits any employee from posting any fire department business, then it becomes a conduct issue and NOT a "rights" issue.
Don't forget; a young firefighter who posted a cartoon video that he made that was critical of the area's medical director cost him his job.
More recently, the firefighter posted the video of a victim of a fatal car accident that the father and mother of the girl saw. He, too, lost his job.
So; the big question is: Is YouTube fame worth the risk of you losing your dream job?
It wouldn't be for me.

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