Essay on Legal Aspects of Fire Protection

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The use of social media within the fire service is a controversial civil issue in which parties on both sides may feel as though his or her rights have been violated. Many fire and emergency services organizations, nationwide have established policies that prohibit and/or restrict the use of social media by employees, due to the growing problems associated with its use. Social networking is a relatively new issue to the legal system with judicial opinions that vary in wide degree. Social networking has become a tool that can convey a positive or negative image upon a fire department, therefore posting must be performed in good taste as to not convey negative public opinion upon the fire department and its members. A social media post that…show more content…
A legal opinion on a social networking site may be viewed favorably, as was the case in Hampton, Virginia, where a sheriff’s department employee was terminated for “liking” his boss’s opponent during a recent election (Knibbs, 2013). “In 2012, The U.S. District Court of Eastern Virginia didn’t buy their argument that the termination violated their First Amendment rights, and dismissed the case; however an appeals judge viewed the case differently and awarded in favor of the employee (Knibbs, 2013). The likely reasoning in this case was the social media posting caused no harm to any party and the employees right to free speech was infringed upon as his boss did not like his support of his opponent in the election. The larger issue was likely the right to vote or support a candidate rather than the social media post. Fire and emergency services regulation of social media use does not violate a person’s right to free speech. Policies are created to protect the department and its members from negative public opinion and the possibility of legal recourse from the postings. A person has the right to privacy and information, such as health information, social security numbers, and so on, is protected under state and federal laws. One who chooses to post on social media should consider the impact such a post may have on his or herself, the department, as well as
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