You represent the department in and
out of uniform
By Rob Reardon
Whether your employees are engaging in social media on or off the job there can be serious implications. Your firefighters need to know the ground rules and be educated in how so many in the public sector have lost their jobs due to poor judgement with social media.
Most people hang their hat on the 1st amendment and free speech when they post rants on social media. They back the claims up that they are on their personal social media accounts. Many times, employees don’t realize that their personal account is not so personal.
When you post pictures and information about your workplace on your personal account it is no longer personal. People will write in their social media bio that my opinions do not reflect that of my employer. Again, this means very little when you are posting information about where you work, and your profile picture has you in a fire helmet.
Those in the public sector must realize that the 1st Amendment does not protect employee’s speech when the employer or organization’s interest in providing efficient and effective service is disrupted.
In simple terms this means that the organization’s mission is more important than the YOUR free speech and there is case law to back this up.
Rob Reardon has been in the fire service for over 20 years. Currently he is a Captain in the Duxbury Fire Department where he has worked for the last 18 years. Captain Reardon is an EFO and CFO graduate. He is the Public Information Officer (PIO) for the Duxbury Fire Department, the Plymouth County Technical Rescue team and the Southeastern Mass Technical Rescue Team. Prior to working at DXFD, Captain Reardon worked for ten years in the media for television stations and major newspapers as an award-winning photographer. His photographs have been used on the covers of many national magazines, newspapers, books, calendars, trade publications as well as used worldwide on TV news. Reardon will be teaching Social Media for Today’s Fire Service at FDIC 2021 in Indianapolis. You can follow him on twitter @reardonphotos, on Instagram @robreardonphotos or www.robreardon.com