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3 Mobile, Alabama firefighters lose job over social media posts about protests

Chief tells Mobile's firefighters "The organization's mission is more important than your free speech"

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It’s baffling. After all that’s been written about social media and the fire service, and particularly in connection with the recent nationwide protests and rioting, why are people still putting their jobs on the line with their comments? How many more firefighters and fire chiefs have to lose their jobs before the message gets through that posting about turning hoses on protesters or running them over are not good career moves?

I’ve lost count of the number SMACSS (Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome) victims in the current pandemic after we exceeded 20. We now have three more from Mobile, Alabama and the fire chief has made it clear the department’s reputation trumps the freedom of speech of his firefighters.

Andrea Ramey, WPMI-TV:

Three firefighters are looking for new jobs after top brass at Mobile Fire-Rescue reviewed recent social media comments related to protests and riots.

A spokesperson for the Mobile Fire Fighters Association confirms two firefighters were terminated and one resigned over alleged violations of the city’s social media policy.

In one post about protesters, someone commented, “Just turn the water hose on them and spray them away.” To which, according to one source, one of the terminated firefighters replied, “I don’t go back till Monday! Lol”

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Shelby Meyers, WALA-TV:

Fox10 News obtained an email sent by fire Chief Mark Sealy, referencing social media behavior. it was sent on June 4th, just a few days after protests in Mobile.

“..there are those who are searching social media content for anything that you as a public servant have said in order to use it against you, the department, and the city. Those of us in the public sector must realize that the organization’s mission is more important than your free speech…”

Sources close to the fire department said disciplinary actions against more firefighters could be coming soon.

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