PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT
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).
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.
PHILADELPHIA FIRE DEPARTMENT