PFD AND NUTTER ADMINISTRATION CRUSHING FREE SPEECH

PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT
HEADQUARTERS
August 1, 2012
GENERAL MEMORANDUM # 12 -80
TO : All Officers and Members
REF/AUTHORITY : Special Investigations Officer/Fire Commissioner
SUBJECT : SOCIAL MEDIA AND NETWORKING GUIDELINES
The use of Social Media and electronic transmissions has become challenging for fire departments and their personnel throughout the country (e.g., Facebook, My Space, Twitter, YouTube, online blogs, email, texting etc.). The proper use of Social Media can be beneficial to the department, employees, and the public. However, improper use can potentially undermine the confidence of the public in the integrity of the Fire Department and its employees. There is no presumption of privacy when information is posted on Social Media websites and/or transmitted electronically. As per Directive #25, Discipline Policy, uniformed members of all ranks are expected to conduct themselves in a credible manner at all times, both on and off duty.
The Philadelphia Fire Department has recently developed a comprehensive Social Media Policy, which will be forthcoming in the near future. In the meantime, it is necessary to provide guidelines on the use of Social Media and electronic transmissions, and remind members of current department polices.
Effective immediately, all officers and members will adhere to the guidelines listed below on the use of Social Media and electronic transmissions both on and off duty.
Social Media Guidelines
• Employees are prohibited from using City of Philadelphia or Philadelphia Fire Department property to engage in personal use of social media.
• While in on-duty status, employees are prohibited from using privately-owned property to engage in personal use of social media. The only exception will be to engage in reasonable and necessary emailing or texting (e.g., text or email from a teacher/child care provider, or family member regarding an emergency).
Employees shall not identify themselves as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department on any Social Media and Networking site without prior approval of the Fire Commissioner. The only exception will be a professional networking site (e.g. LinkedIn). Postings will only pertain to professional networking and development.
• The use of cellular/mobile phones is prohibited while driving any department apparatus, responding to or operating on any incident scene, performing official duties, and during training (practical or classroom). The only exception will be for
official communication (e.g., to contact Fire Communications, chain of command or medical command).
The use of recording devices—camera, video recorder, audio recorder, cell phone or any device with audio and video recorder applications—is prohibited while on-duty and/or at any incident scene without prior approval from the Fire Commissioner. The only exceptions are those persons/units (Visual Communications Unit, Prevention, and Fire Marshal’s Office etc.) authorized to do so. Under no circumstances will photo images, video, or audio of any incident scene, patients, bystanders, or first responders be posted on line.
• Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting any information regarding the transport, treatment, or condition of any patient. This includes employees/members who were provided care and or transportation to a medical facility.
Employees shall not post on any Social Media site or electronically transmit any electronic recordings (photo images, video, or audio) of Philadelphia Fire Department property or on-duty responses/activities without written approval from the Fire Commissioner.
Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons displaying threatening or sexually-explicit material, epithets or slurs based on race, ethnic or national origin, gender, religious affiliation, disability, or sexual orientation, and harassing, offensive, discriminatory, or defamatory comments.
Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting messages, images, comments, or cartoons that foster or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, age, religion, gender, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.
Employees shall not post any material on the internet or via electronic transmission that may adversely affect the efficiency or effective operation of the department.
Employees shall not post on any Social Media site or electronically transmit any information that is inconsistent with the duties, ethics and Oath of Office of a firefighter or paramedic, such as racist or sexist comments, inaccurate information, personal attacks, or rumors.
Employees shall not post any information or images involving off-duty activities that may bring a member’s or the department’s reputation into question.
Employees shall not post any photo, image, or video of themselves wearing any part of the official Fire Department uniform or displaying any City equipment without approval from the Fire Commissioner. The only exception will be a professional networking site (e.g. LinkedIn).
• Employees shall not post on any Social Media site any depiction or illustration of the Official Seal of the City of Philadelphia, or the Philadelphia Fire Department name, badge, logo, patch, or vehicle, so as to give the appearance of an official site of the City of Philadelphia or the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Employees are prohibited from posting on any Social Media site or electronically transmitting any information regarding a Fire Department incident, ongoing investigation, or pending litigation (both criminal and civil actions).
Responsibility
Division Chiefs will meet with their respective Battalion Chiefs to develop and implement a plan for Company Officers to conduct station exercises reviewing the policies listed below. Battalion Chiefs will coordinate with Company Officers to facilitate the review of policies, and ensure a roster sheet is prepared for each company indicating member has reviewed the listed policies. Platoon “D” Division Chiefs will consolidate all memos and forward to FPSC Jeremiah Laster, Special Investigations Officer by October 1, 2012. Unit Heads will follow the same procedure for their assigned members.
• City of Philadelphia Social Media Use Policy located on the “T” drive, Social Media Policy folder
• Directive #57, Fire Department Wide Area Network
• HIPPA Web Training PowerPoint presentation located on the “P” drive, “H” folder, HIPPA Central and Web Training folder.
• Directive # 25, Discipline Policy
Failure to comply with Social Media and Networking Guidelines may lead to disciplinary action being taken against a member/employee.
LLOYD AYERS
FIRE COMMISSIONER

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11 Responses to PFD AND NUTTER ADMINISTRATION CRUSHING FREE SPEECH

  1. Bob Orr says:

    Yo, Cap, on the surface, some of this is logical and stuff that the firefighting brethren wouldn’t do anyway. But it’s frightening in that the wiggle room for interpretation is so broad that they could screw you for not participating in the Nutter-led groupthink.
    Hang in there, friend. Roll safe.

  2. Randal Graves says:

    1. Looks like a standard, cookie cutter, Social Media Policy that you would see in ANY business, public or private. My company has a very similar policy. I post NOTHING about work on the internet; I value my employment!

    2. This has 100% nothing to do with free speech! The Government has not created any laws prohibiting you from doing anything. You’re more than welcome to “speak freely” just be prepared to accept any consequences that may occur.

    3. I’m sure they are also looking to cover their asses in case of any lawsuits popping up from picture, video, communication, etc. that the public could use against the department.

  3. Randall – as usual you are 100% wrong. While there are reasonable restrictions as to what we can and can’t say, this policy is way to broad and will effectively stifle free speech. I can’t even IDENTIFY myself as a member of the PFD according to this policy.

    EXCERPT FROM PREVIOUS COURT CASE:

    http://firechief.com/legal/firefighters-dont-have-forfeit-free-speech

    “Although a fire department ordinarily should be afforded great leeway in disciplining insubordinate firefighters, it’s not a self-evident proposition that firefighters who defy a chief’s order by speaking out about the fire department or even criticizing it commit an act of insubordination that threatens its efficiency. The court said that the defendants failed to produce evidence that the threat of insubordination in this case was so great as to outweigh the public’s interest in an informed discussion about the inadequacies of the fire department.”

    • flyersfan444 says:

      100% NOT a Free Speech issue. Please stop using free speech incorrectly.

      Your employer doesn’t want you bashing them and your employer doesn’t want you writing about work on blogs SO THEY DON’T GET THEIR ASSES SUED. Believe it or not, they are also protecting YOU, even if they don’t want to.

      And with the exception of ” not identify themselves as a member of the Philadelphia Fire Department (or whoever you work for)”, this really is a pretty generic Social Media policy. Believe or not, the world isn’t out to get ya!

  4. Wyatt Earp says:

    This is similar to the PPD’s policy, but actually much more restrictive. I like our Twitter policy, where the department will give you their blessing if they can have pre-approval of all tweets. Department is offering “training courses” in it, so you can be an official departmental tweeter – providing you only tweet what they want you to.

    I passed on that glorious opportunity.

  5. Old NFO says:

    Yep, they ARE out to get ya’ll… Just sayin…

  6. ingineer66 says:

    Most of it makes sense especially the part about patients photos etc. But the part about not being allowed to post on Facebook from your own personal cell phone seems a bit restrictive.

  7. The Working Class Conservative says:

    I wrote about this a few days ago. The PFD GM lets call them guidelines are far more restrictive than the PPD Check it out

    http://mikemadden59.wordpress.com/2012/08/05/police-vs-fire-its-tone/

  8. Mike47 says:

    Looks like the socialist leaders in the Department are trying to assert as much authority as possible before the whole thing gets a substantial body of court precedence in favor of free speech. Internet/social media cases do not yet have widespread testing in court. This will undoubtedly change soon.

  9. Bob G. says:

    Cap:

    Like no one could see ANY of this happeneing with the advent of such immediate access to news…or technological advances…c’,mon now…how fascist do they need to become before you all say “:enough is enough”?

    Granted, some things are standard fare, but if something seems hinky…question it…and then follow up on it.

    Many times, it’s called “they are frigging SCARED of people finding out THE TRUTH, and being CALLED out on it”

    And though the truth can be hard to take, it is quite liberating and informative..

    Besides, aren’t all those politicos and bureaucrats civil SERVANTS?
    Who gave THEM the keys to OUR manor?

    You find a way to keep doing what you do…
    Because it MATTERS…to many.

    Roll safe out there.

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