Firefighters & Social Media

I have recently read several questions from several different social media sites, and have read 1000s of comments, with this as the question, ” what do you think about firefighters taken selfies at fires and then getting dismissed from the department?”

I’m going to leave you with the following statements and it may get some of your panties in a knot and believe me I’m okay with that.

If we are to look at the stories shared on all media outlets of firefighters loosing their jobs or being booted out of the department, we’d notice one similar thing in each story. There was a fatality involved. The real question here is, is it just because someone died and this photo was taken? Or was it against department policy, SOP/SOG? In most case’s it is never mentioned so we assume that it wasn’t a direct violation of a policy. Yet in some instances it was.

My thoughts on taken selfies and/or photos on any emergency scene are as follows. 1. No matter if we are paid or volunteer we took a oath to serve and protect those in our fire district’s. We are expected to respond to any emergency and try to make someone’s worst moment a little better, to the best of our ability. We are expected to act professional on and off duty, because we have joined a organization that is highly respected. So when you have a urge to post a photo of someone else’s misfortune, ask yourself is this a professional move? 2. When we spend time to take a selfie at a emergency scene we are doing so out of self gratification. We definitely are not doing so out of service to others. When I see a photo of some firefighter that took time to take a selfie at a emergency scene, I automatically think here is someone that is here from them not for the community. Plus a bunch of names for such a person that I won’t write here but there’re not good names. Then I read any text that might be with the photo hoping to read controlled burn, practice or anything to indicate that it wasn’t at a actual emergency call. Must of the time this isn’t the case it’s actually from a emergency scene. Shame on you if you’re one of the many doing this. Very unprofessional in my opinion. 3. The questions I ask someone in person when asked about this subject is this. When did we become the media? When did it become our responsibility to share someone’s worst moment all over social media? Why are we so hell bent on spending more time posting photos of incidents on social media then we are learning about the trade?

The fact is. We have no reason as professionals ( that is what we are) to be publicizing someone else’s misfortunes all over social media. Our job as professional public servants is to respond, take care of the emergency and try to make the folk’s day a bit better. When taken selfies at any emergency scene it is for no other reason in my opinion then self gratification or to be used to get self worth/confirmation or to make us feel better about our own insecurities. So in closing here is my honest opinion. I personally could care one way or the other if you chose to take selfies at a emergency scene. Don’t expect me or others to feel bad for you if you lose your job or get booted out of the department from your own poor choice. Don’t get me wrong here, photo’s of scenes are great. They can be used to study and learn from. We may spot something from a photo that was missed while on scene and so on. So photos are good, it is where and why we share the photos that poses the problem. Let the media do what they do best and share the devastation at someone else’s misfortune. Let us do our job’s and do all we can to help. Like everything else we do we need to ask a couple of questions before posting photos on social media. How will this make me look? Will it do harm to the reputation of my department? If I was in that situation, would I want someone else posting photos of it? Think before you act and you may just save yourself and your department a whole bunch of problems.

Derek Sinesi

Derek Sinesi is a captain with the DeRuyter Fire Department in New York. He has been studying recruiting and retention techniques for over 10 years.

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