Legal Aspects of Fire Protection

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The use of social media within the fire service is a controversial civil issue in which parties on both sides may feel as though his or her rights have been violated. Many fire and emergency services organizations, nationwide have established policies that prohibit and/or restrict the use of social media by employees, due to the growing problems associated with its use. Social networking is a relatively new issue to the legal system with judicial opinions that vary in wide degree. Social networking has become a tool that can convey a positive or negative image upon a fire department, therefore posting must be performed in good taste as to not convey negative public opinion upon the fire department and its members. A social media post that creates negativity as well as a civil issue for both the individual and the fire and emergency service can occur through intentional malice or occur accidently. “It is rare for firefighters to post in malice but it does happen” (Roberts, 2012, para. 3). Timothy Dluhos, a FDNY Emergency Medical Service Lieutenant, is facing legal action along with the department, due to a social media post ranting about a patient and posting a photo of the patient in a wheel chair with a wide load sign photo shopped into the photo (Saul, 2013). While it is unclear if FDNY has a policy on social media postings, the woman is seeking damages from emotional suffering and Lieutenant Dluhos has since resigned from his position with FDNY (Saul, 2013). Many argue that the use and posting on social media is his or her constitutional right, however the first amendment of the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or a... ... middle of paper ... ... ones identity or health information is used in a vicarious manner. Departments must employ strict and consistent policies on social networking to protect both the department and its employees. References Knibbs, K. (2013). Facebook ’likes’ are protected by the first amendment. Retrieved from http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/facebook-like-protected-by-the-first-amendment/ Roberts, M. R. (2012, May 8). How fire departments can avoid social-media liability. Fire Chief. Retrieved from http://firechief.com/department-policies/how-fire-departments-can-avoid-social-media-liability Saul, J. (2013, September 19). Wheelchair woman sues ‘Bad Lieutenant’. New York Post. Retrieved from http://nypost.com/2013/09/19/bad-lieutenant-sued-by-wheelchair-woman/ Varone, J. C. (2012). Legal considerations for fire & emergency services (2nd ed.). Clifton Park, NY: Delmar.
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