I've been asked to present a discussion / training concerning the use of  firefighters and personal camera phones  & Video while on scene.


With the new technology and the easy access to the web for posting these videos , we want to open a discussion on what types of liabilities this may present, emotional issues from victims and their families, what rights are involved, and can these videos be a useful tool.


I look forward to your replies as I am very intrested in the different viewpoints.

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IMO there is no purpose to have a personal cell phone on scene. It's a personal phone so it should only be used for personal purposes. A department camera (video or still) I believe has a purpose on-scene but it has to be in the hands of someone who understands and is adhering to department policy. The (one) purpose I believe the camera does provide is in training. (If training needs pictures of PT's then your department's policy needs to be pretty solid regarding proper approvals.)

What most people do not figure in is that any photo/video you obtain can end up as evidence. One thing it may contain is response personnel doing something non-standard, which can used against them.

This I believe is why if a FD is going to allow recording devices on-scene, that the policy they follow was drafted by their DA, or other attorney. You just can't say. "I'd delete the "bad stuff", because if you record and catch something that can get you in trouble and you delete it, this can get you in trouble too.
"If you take pictures it has been made very clear that the phone will be taken as evidence and you will be prosecuted."

"What most people do not figure in is that any photo/video you obtain can end up as evidence."

If you're on a scene with the feds involved, you can bet your sweet Aunt Fanny that if they see you taking pics/video, they're gonna take your phone away as evidence. The nice ones will copy (or move) your pics off your phone and give it back eventually. In reality, you'll probably never see it again.
we allow this to happen. however im from a very small close knit community. our members i know and trust will not put any photos or videos of on scene incidents. as we in the commuinty know each other. however, in the station, along with our brothers and sisters, we do share and look at the pics and vids for training and awarness
Alright, on both my departments we have a zero tolerance for pictures and video. The only way we can use a video or picture is if we are okayed by the commanding officer and the owner of the property, vehicle, or belonging. From this we can only use it for training purposes. This rule is for the members of my departments. We can't help if there are other people taking pictures.
I've said it before, I'll say it again (hey, I'm doing it right now), we should all behave on scene as though we're being filmed, whether in still form or videotaped. You never know when you might end up on YouTube.

Our department has a photographer who is an officer on the fire police squad. When he's not busy with traffic, he may be found shooting something on scene, generally for use in training/discussions later/firehouse website.

I see it as useful for in-house discussions, where you can use things that appear in the footage to critique your own performance. Sometimes, something funny shows up. Sometimes, you can learn something. It's the new technology, and it ain't going away. I carry my cell phone in my shirt pocket, but I don't use the camera. It's not my place to photograph things on scene, and I don't need or want any trouble that may be associated with it.
If there's a break in the action and I need to let someone know that I'll have to cancel or postpone something, I do, but that's the extent of my phone usage on scene.

As with anything else, there's a right way and a wrong way to do things.
It's probably best to have a policy of no pics/video via cell phones and personal cameras, but you may miss out on having something worthwhile later. That's the decision of the officers/trustees.

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