Firefighter Fired Over Facebook Post of Virtual Firefighter Video

HATZEL VELA
WCSC 5
Reprinted with Permission

COLLETON COUNTY, SC - A Colleton County paramedic and firefighter was fired over a video he posted on Facebook.

On February 11, Jason Brown was called into the director's office and questioned about the video he posted the previous night.

The Facebook post takes you to a YouTube-like site, where a video almost three minutes in length shows an exchange between two cartoon characters at a hospital.

One is a doctor, the other a paramedic.

In a letter of dismissal Brown provided, Colleton County Fire-Rescue Director Barry McRoy said, "You [Brown] displayed poor judgment in producing a derogatory video depicting a member of this department with a physician which is implied to be at Colleton Medical Center."

"There was no malicious attack to anybody involved personally or countywide or any certain department ever," said Brown, who spent two hours making what he described as a text-to-movie video.

On the web site xtranormal.com, you can create characters and even make them look like you. Users can type in a script and the cartoon-like character will say what you write.

"I'm not trying to make any doctor or any nurse look stupid," Brown said.

He said he wasn't even talking about Colleton Medical. He only used the name of a doctor who works at that hospital because he had recently seen him at a party.

It was supposed to be a funny, exaggerated and an almost unbelievable story of real life on-the-job experiences, Brown said.

"It's just general things that go on in the day-to-day business of us running calls within any fire department, any EMS," he added.

The dismissal letter also said, "This video has created an embarrassing situation for this department, our public image and the cooperative relationship we enjoy with Colleton Medical Center. It reflects poorly on you and Colleton County."

Brown appealed the decision, but his appeal was denied.

[See the rejection of appeal letter (pdf).]

Brown never meant any harm, he said.

"If I knew it was going to give me this much headache, I never would have made it in the first place," he added.

Brown said he was told his video was racist because the cartoon character playing the doctor role was African-American and during one of the exchanges the character said, "I don't want to lose my job and go back to being a janitor."

"That was never, ever in my actions or even thoughts when I made the video," Brown said.

When making the video, a black doctor was the only option offered, he added.

Getting fired was a little overboard, he said.

McRoy wouldn't give details about the Brown's firing because he said he couldn't discuss personnel matters.

But he said the Facebook incident wasn't the only reason Brown was fired.

Brown said he has never been seriously reprimanded and points to the dismissal letter as proof the Facebook post was the only reason he was fired.

If asked to take down the post, he would have done it and that would have been the end, he said.

Brown said after he was fired, he was escorted to the station where he returned all his gear, while two officers supervised him.

"I felt like a criminal," he said.

Prior to working at Colleton County Fire-Rescue for three and a half years, he worked at Berkeley County EMS and Goose Creek City Fire.

He said he left those two places because Colleton County paid more.

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If you go to their page, at least to me, it seems they represent ems systems, not the workers themselves.
Having read all 15 plus pages of this thread, and finding both sides do have valid points, it is not up to us to determine whether there is a violation of free speech, slander or any other civil issues. We are not the courts, lawyers or even the jury.

All we are is by-standers with our opinions.

No I haven't watched the video since I am trying to remain unbiased about it. So we shall see if or when this particular issue ends up in court.
I agree 100%. We don't know anything else that might have happened before this. Was this the "final straw".
...he's from the land of "would you like a slushy?" ...
Whenever I read a bigoted comment such as this one, why is it I'm not surprised to see the writer is from texas.
>...he's from the land of "would you like a slushy?" ...
Whenever I read a bigoted comment such as this one, why is it I'm not surprised to see the writer is from texas.

But, Jack; as he stated repeatedly, he meant no harm by it. The video was meant to be funny; that's all.
Little did he-Jason Brown-know, he has created a wider stage for discussion on what constitutes a violation of conduct policies by posting to the social media, even though it is against the policy AND what is REALLY freedom of speech issues.
As a sidebar, when I am watching the TV today and I see all of the protesters there, THAT is freedom of assembly and freedom of speech.
However, if an employee of the news organization covering it decides to throw a little video montage with over dubbing to it and post it on his facebook page and is fired, well; that is conduct again and not freedom of speech violations.
People should really know the difference when engaging in those debates.
It isn't that complicated.
Art, I would like to know which policy it was against?

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