socialmediapolicy2

“Social Media Networking Policy”Response to First Due Blog Carnival

My submission to this month’s edition notes four main issues.
Without them, no policy will be effective.


In the recent months we have seen examples of how unmanageable social media and networking have damaged the careers of fire and EMS personnel as well as added to the grief suffered by victims and their families. In most of these examples the reaction has been a swift disciplinary action followed by clueless moderation from department and civic leaders as well as countless commentary from anonymous internet experts citing everything from the first amendment to HIPAA. This edition of the First Due Blog Carnival asked bloggers to look at their own department and create a social media and networking policy incorporating their existing disciplinary process. The end result is that contributors could create a policy that could be seriously considered within their department, embracing the advantages of this new media and allowing their department to be proactive instead of reactive.

In reading this theoretical departmental policy I hope you recognize four main issues. Regardless of your views on the use of video cameras, blogs and Facebook, the technology is here and is rapidly developing. The fire and EMS service can either responsibly and creatively embrace it into their operations, or stick their head in the sand and wonder why they are not being noticed. Secondly, we cannot expect our department will never face problems such as an employee’s Facebook firing, the video post of a victim of a fatal auto accident and the ‘what now?’ reaction to subscription fire service caught on tape. We will face the good as well as the bad simply because of human nature. The best we can do is to teach our members the difference between good and bad social media behavior. Finally, we cannot expect our members to understand the differences in good and bad social media if we do not reward and punish the choices made.

It is really quite simple. Prepare for the worst, teach what is expected, reward or punish the result.

I also hope you recognized another important factor, the code of ethics. Gone are the days when simply being a firefighter, or other public servant, was admired by name alone. Before any behavioral policy is ever placed into effect, your department should strongly identify the character of people representing it, both on and off duty. I should also add that this theoretical policy in no way is intended to be used by your department in its entirety or partially. It is only intended to make you and your department leaders think about how you would deal with the impending problems.

- – - – -
Fire and EMS Department
Administrative General Orders
Draft: Social Media and Social Networking Policy


Purpose

Define new media use and value within the mission and image of the Fire and EMS Department as well as outline acceptable and prohibitive practices of new media within the social media and networking spheres.

Fire and EMS Department Social Media Uses

The Fire and EMS Department recognizes the positive value that various forms of social media and networking have in promoting fire safety, positive public relations and in the continuing education of department personnel. The following specifics designate the appropriate forms of approved social media and networking authorized by the Fire and EMS Department, as well as the disciplinary process for those instances which violate this policy. The Fire and EMS Department is bound to act according to and under order of the City Solicitor and/or designated legal counsel in regard to all forms of incident documentation and related permissions, especially in cases of probable, impending and previous legal action.

I. Definitions
II. Video and Audio Recording
III. In-Service Installation and Review
IV. Social Media/Networking Representation
V. Disciplinary Action


I. Definitions

A. Social Media: Any means by which information (writing, photographs, video, audio) are shared through various electronic modes such as websites, blogs, forums, webcasts, podcasts, netcasts and other similar avenues. Definition will also include still, video and/or audio images and reporting from local news services in accord with their respective copyright legalities.
B. Social Networking: Any means by which an individual or individuals may either professionally or privately share and/or post information combined with Social Media using such services as MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and other similar avenues.
C. Camera: Device used to capture still and video images. Cameras may be departmental issued or privately owned and may be affixed to apparatus, personal protective equipment or hand-held. Definition will also include thermal imaging cameras as well.
D. Audio: Any audible recording and/or transcript of such as it pertain to personnel and department actions on the scene of an emergency incident, training, or other departmental activity.
E. Departmental Scene: Any activity, regardless of activity type and location, which depicts department personnel, both on- and off-duty, operating in any manner that represents the Fire and EMS Department.

II. Video and Audio Recording Devices
A. Departmental Issued. The department recognizes that there are various means of documenting a department scene. The logistical pros and cons of each include cost, size, features and other options. While the department may offer use of one specific type of video and/or audio recording device, each member is encouraged to explore the various features and benefits best suitable to their social media purpose. Video and/or audio recording devices purchased by the department are departmental government property and will be governed as such. Video and/or audio recording devices purchased privately will be considered “Departmental Issued” for the purpose of governance under the Social Media and Social Networking Policy. All video and audio recording devices must be first recommended to the Training Division and approved by the Fire Chief before being placed into service. With each device, a waiver of liability must be signed and placed on file (see Attachment 1-1 ‘Waiver of Liability of Property Damage’) before the device is to be installed and used. Approved helmet mounted cameras (helmet cams) shall be installed by the Logistics Division in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Any personnel wearing approved helmet cams must sign a waiver of liability (see Attachment 1-2 ‘Waiver of Liability of Personal and Property Damage’) and have said waiver placed on file before the helmet cam is attached. Any adjustments and/or repairs to the approved helmet cam and helmet must be made by the Logistics Division following the established method of PPE repair/replacement request.

B. Privately Owned. The department recognizes that off-duty personnel may freely use their own privately owned devices to document a departmental scene. Such documentation may prove to be valuable to incident commanders, company officers, training personnel and fire investigators. However, as part of the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order, each member who chooses to document a department scene must first sign a release waiver (see Attachment 1-3 ‘Release of Department Scene Documentation’) before documenting a department scene. A member’s failure to do so will result in said member facing first step charges for violating the signed Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order. Privately owned also applies to those persons and invited guests who have received written permission from the Fire Chief’s office under the Fire and EMS Department Ride-Along General Order.

III. In-Service Installation and Review

In order to properly manage and continually evaluate the department’s social media policy and the value of related administrative and operational training content, the department will oversee the installation of all video and/or audio recording devices.

A. In-Service Installation. In order to avoid duplication of imagery and content the Training Division will manage the location of Departmental Issued devices. The Fire and EMS Department is composed of many stations deploying multiple resources. As a minimum the following locations and assignments will be varied to document as many departmental scenes as possible. The Training Division may at any time change the installation of said devices. See ‘Example 1’ for a sample of identifying the location of such devices.

Example 1 ‘Current Departmental Issued Devices’

Company 1:
Engine 1 Officer (A shift) – helmet camera
Ladder 1 Firefighter (B shift) – helmet camera
HazMat 1 (A, B, C, D shift) helmet camera (1); hand held camera
Battalion Chief 1 Aide (A, B, C, D shift) – helmet camera

Company 2:
Engine 2 Lineman (B shift) – helmet camera
Medic 2 – dash camera
Rescue 2 Firefighter (C shift) – helmet camera
Rescue 2 Tech. Rescue Team member (A, B, C, D shift) – helmet camera

Company 3:
Engine 3 – dash camera
Tower 3 Officer (A shift) – helmet camera
Tower 3 Firefighter (C shift) – helmet camera

Company 4:
Engine 4 Firefighter (B shift) – helmet camera
Medic 4 – dash camera
Medic 4 SWAT Medic member – helmet camera

PIO: hand held camera
Arson 1: hand held camera

Fire Academy: helmet cameras (2); hand held cameras (2)

The Training Division and the Fire Chief have the right to change method of installation at anytime.

B. Review. After each documented working incident, the company officer will notify the Training Division (see Attachment 1-4 ‘Social Media/Incident Documentation’) of the incident and download the video and/or audio onto the department’s intranet service. The company officer will also make note of the use of departmental issued and/or privately owned devices in the incident reporting system as well. The Training Division will review the documentation and all related material and reports before allowing for posting video and/or audio of the incident. In the case of fatalities and/or injuries (department personnel and/or civilian), the Training Division will appropriate all departmental issued devices for downloading and review. Devices will be returned to their assigned companies as soon as download and review is complete. Privately owned devices will be reviewed and documentation will be forwarded to the Fire Chief for additional review.

C. The Public Information Officer and the Training Division will be responsible for cataloging and maintaining the online database of all documentation of Departmental Scenes within the department’s official website and the posting of such information on the department’s official social media and social networking pages. Media listed in intranet service will be identified for personnel as department confidential (Private) and publicly shareable (Public).

D. Once a month, the Training Division will survey the fire companies for any documentation other than that recorded during a working incident. This may include relatively minor incidents, informal or shift-level training sessions, or any department scene that may have value, after editing, to the Fire and EMS Department’s mission and image. The Training Division has the authority to appropriate any and all departmental devices, unannounced, at any time. The Fire Chief will designate personnel whose responsibility it will be to search and monitor various social media and social networking venues to ensure department personnel are acting in compliance with the Social Media and Social Networking Policy.

IV. Social Media/Networking Representation

Under the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order, all uniformed and civilian personnel have signed an agreement to uphold a positive public image of the Fire and EMS Department in both their on- and off-duty lives. The department recognizes the value of social media and social networking as well as the immediate implications that the immediate technology possess. In an effort to promote the mission of the department, protect the civil liberties of its personnel and safeguard the privacy of the citizens we serve, the Social Media and Social Networking Policy will serve as the gatepost to exemplify positive practices and prevent damaging ones.

A. Official Social Media and Social Networking Sites. The Fire and EMS Department has its own official website, Facebook page and Twitter account. These are each maintained by the Public Information Officer and other designees of the Fire Chief. The purpose of each is to promote the mission of the department, report on department activities and events, and impart fire and EMS safety educational material. Personnel are encouraged to use, contribute to, and share this department information. No offensive or objectionable material will be allowed to be posted or related to the official department website, social media and social networking accounts.

B. Unofficial Social Media and Social Networking Sites. The Fire and EMS Department recognizes the liberty all personnel have to their own creative expressions within the social media and social networking avenues. Individual companies may have their own unofficial website and personnel may have an individual blog. Within each individual expression is the relation to the Fire and EMS Department through an employer-employee identity. So long as uniformed and civilian personnel are employed by the Fire and EMS Department their actions within social media and social networking are governable under the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order, as well as all other related conduct policy for current City employees. Personnel are encouraged to share department information deemed publicly appropriate within their creative talents. Linking to, or using with permission, department media (written, video, photo, audio) is also encouraged. Posts containing offensive and/or objectionable material will be subject to review and personnel may be held responsible in accordance with this general order’s disciplinary process and other Fire and EMS Department disciplinary action. Likewise, the department prohibits the posting of illegal content by uniformed and civilian personnel in any social networking site, public or privately viewed, as related to the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order. This includes HIPAA violations and/or confidential departmental information.

C. Personal Social Networking Sites. The creative liberties individuals have in expressing themselves through social networking have been challenged in past employer-employee incidents in many occupations. The Fire and EMS Department has no desire to violate an employee’s civil liberties; however, the department does have an obligation to protect the public we serve and promote a healthy public image among our municipal government and civic leaders. The city and department, as well as related labor organizations and employee associations, have outlined processes and assistance for resolving disputes. Uniformed and civilian personnel are encouraged to utilize these means to resolve such concerns. The Fire and EMS Department’s position on labor, personnel and management disputes is that such issues have a proper place to be heard and discussed. Some of these issues may be under investigation or involve legal proceedings where open dialogue via social networking sites may jeopardize the outcome and/or influence decisions. The Fire and EMS Department does not condone the posting of offensive and/or questionable material related in any method possible to the department, in relation to the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order. Likewise, the department prohibits the posting of illegal content by uniformed and civilian personnel in any social networking site, public or privately viewed, as related to the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order. This includes HIPAA violations and/or confidential departmental information.

D. Sanctioning Training Related Content. The Fire and EMS Department recognizes the immense popularity and advantages websites, blogs and podcasts have in sharing training information. The department encourages its uniformed personnel to share their experience and knowledge with others inside and outside of the department within a proper format. Department-specific training material is that which is presented or approved of by the Training Division and Fire Chief. Any other training content not approved must include the disclaimer found in training and educational waiver (see Attachment 1-5 ‘Training and Educational Social Media Waiver’): “Note: The information herein has not been approved of or endorsed by the Fire and EMS Department. The Fire and EMS Department is not in any way legally responsible for the information posted here. The Fire and EMS Department encourages readers to seek the input of their own training and supervisory officials regarding this subject.”

V. Disciplinary Action

The disciplinary action presented herein may be used in conjunction with or superseded by the disciplinary action listed in the Fire and EMS Department Code of Conduct and Ethics general order as well as the disciplinary action provided to all city employees.

A. Violations of the Social Media and Social Networking Policy are to be dealt with in the violation manner listed below:
1. Tampering with Departmental Issued Devices. Uniformed and civilian employees found using tampering with video and audio recording devices will face the following:
a. Immediate supervisory counseling session.
b. Three (3) day suspension without pay.

2. Unauthorized Use of Video and Audio Recording Devices. Uniformed and civilian employees found using unauthorized video and audio recording devices will face the following:
a. Immediate supervisory counseling session.
b. Battalion Chief and Fire Chief counseling session.
c. Confiscation of unauthorized recording devices and content.
d. Three (3) day suspension without pay.
e. Three (3) month probation.

3. Unauthorized Posting of Department Scene(s) and/or Department Multi-Media Content. Uniformed and civilian employees found posting and/or sharing unauthorized content will face the following:
a. Immediate supervisory counseling session.
b. Battalion Chief and Fire Chief counseling session.
c. Three (3) day suspension without pay.
d. Three (3) month probation.
e. Suspension from use of Departmental Devices for six (6) months.

4. Inappropriate and/or Illegal Posting and/or Sharing of Offensive/Objectionable Material on Social Media/Networking Sites. Uniformed and civilian employees found posting and/or sharing inappropriate and/or illegal content will face the following:
a. Immediate supervisory counseling session.
b. Battalion Chief and Fire Chief Counseling session
c. Thirty (30) day suspension without pay.
d. One (1) year probation.
e. Suspension from use of Departmental Devices during term of employment.
f. Termination of employment.

5. Repeat and/or Consecutive Violations. Repeated or consecutive violations of one or more of the above regardless of order will result in employee’s immediate termination and possible legal/criminal proceedings.

B. The outlined disciplinary process is subject to counseling session recommendations, approval from the Fire Chief and additional measures directed by the City Solicitor, in accordance to all rights within the employee’s employment contract.

Signed,

Fire Chief

- – - – -

Keep Calm image courtesy of the Guardian; Loose Lips image courtesy History Channel/Corbis.

You are not authorized to see this part
Please, insert a valid App IDotherwise your plugin won't work.

2 thoughts on ““Social Media Networking Policy”Response to First Due Blog Carnival”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>