Firefighters on desk duty for Facebook post

WASHINGTON — Five D.C. firefighters are on desk duty after criticizing D.C. police in a Facebook post and suggesting first responders take their time getting to incident scenes.

A firefighter recently snapped a photograph of a police officer who wrote him a traffic ticket, then posted it on Facebook with a comment along the lines of “This is why we should be careful and take our time getting to incident scenes,” reported News4.

The post has been removed.

The television station reports police and fire officials understood the posting to be in reference to a March incident in which a D.C. police officer had to wait 20 minutes to be transported to the hospital after a hit-and-run crash.

Four firefighters commented on the original post, and were also assigned to desk duty, according to Ed Smith, president of the D.C. Firefighters Association.

“There isn’t a social media policy in place,” says Smith. “If members are going to be held accountable then it needs to be upfront and the rules need to be known about what’s in bounds and what’s out of bounds,” says Smith.

Smith says the issue isn’t only a public safety concern.

“Employees in all workplaces are struggling with social media policies,” says Smith.

The head of the firefighters’ union says establishing a policy reflects expectations, but also provides for free speech.

“You have to find that fine line between keeping the public trust and respecting members’ First Amendment rights,” says Smith.

Smith says he’s reached out to his counterpart in the police union, “just to let him know we respect our brothers and sisters in blue.”

D.C. Fire has not responded to a request for comment.

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