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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It is pretty simple folks it is call conduct unbecoming. If you have on your Facebook that you are a firefighter for ABC fire Dept. and then you post things that look bad on ABC Fire Dept. You will be in trouble. Everyone needs to remember this when they are posting things on the web. I am not saying he should have been fired for this because I don't think he should have been however he made somebody mad and they fired him. He may get his job back but I will bet he still faces discipline.
Kevin is right. I offer advice as a firefighter and public administration graduate to many brothers and sisters out there: When you are under the control of your employer, you are not afforded the same constitutational rights, such as "freedom of speech," as everyone else. "Under the control of your employer" will become a matter for the lawyers to interpert. Many goverments, that we all work for, will view us as employees 24/7, and we are all governed by the rules and regulations and policies at all times in certain situations. Many will not agree, but keep this in the back of your mind before you act in any situation at any time. Look for more policies across the nation addressing this issue of social networking. I offer this as information to help keep those who are frustrated out of trouble in the future.
It sounds to me like people need to grow up awhile and pull thier heads out of thier almighty buttocks. If this is grounds for being fired, then to me there must be some truth or once agian money is power and(and we all know money talks and Bulls!#%&* walks).One more sign we have no rights and no voice! Being held to a higher standard is one thing but we are all still humane. Does know one like to laugh a little ? Good Luck Man!!
Unbelievable. This man only made a spoof of what we all think, and some may even be brave enough to say out loud. We, as Fire Fighter/Medics, put everything we have and are into what we do. It is extremely insulting when you walk into an ER and this scene plays out in front of you, and IT DOES. I believe we should have an outlet for the frustration we gather as days pass...that's what he has done here. I mean no disrespect to the excellent doctors and nurses that do their jobs, but for everyone of those you will find 3 that don't. Ambulances are not taxi's. We ARE NOT CLEAN UP CREWS, unless we are on a fire...not the same. I work emergency and transport...the gross misuse of the system, 911 and interfacility transport, should be addressed. Dude, keep your head up....we got your back.
Are you kidding me, I agree with everyone here , but like Ralph has said about the code, but still being terminated, maybe a shift or two but not being terminated. Is there more to this, are the two always aruging each shift, PLEASE take it a shift at a time and hopethis all works out for the Firefighter.
Let's all step back and be "CAREFUL" on what we say and do "ON-DUTY" and "OFF - DUTY"
There is a difference posting to "our co-workers" who understand the humor, then to the FB world. Not sure which was done here. There are ususally code of conduct rules, which as an employee, you need to be aware of, respect and follow.
Read the rules that govern your employment!
This reminds me of a "letter" I wrote to a guy on my department who's nickname was Manatee and he also needed a kidney transplant. It got around the whole department pretty quick, everyone thought it was funny as hell.

To protect him, I did change the name to Mr. XYZ before uploading the file.
Attachments:
This is what happens when chiefs use Zero-tolerance policies rather than commonsense when making decisions. A personal facebook video should have no relevance to his department or any hospital. I niether saw nor heard anything that would imply such. This firefighter needs to find a good lawyer. Then he could do a video about lawsuits next.
Ok, I saw the video. I think he has a case. Nothing racist. Only problem I found in the video is why was the ff concerned about the labs? And if the ff is so concerned about the ER doing it's job shouldn't he have done the same...ie transporting the patient to the other facility on the doctors orders. Now the ff may be going back to being a janitor!
it's BULLSHIT there was guy on one of our neighboring dept that was fired for a shirt that he was wearing in his profile pic that said pot steering because the town mayor didn't think it was appropriate because he was wearing his fire dept hat in the picture and the Mayer gave him the nickname pot steerer
Firing I don't thing was the right way to handle this.A little humor in the fire service is how we handle stress.So if it that bad just take it of the net and a written apology I thing is the best way to handle this.
lol no body has a sence of humor anymore.

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