Facebook Post by Illinois Firefighter Prompts Outcry from Elected Officials

Elected officials in the Village of Swansea, Illinois are not happy about a Facebook post by a volunteer firefighter. FF Kody Koudelka is accused of making the obscene post about the village board. Following a request by Fire Chief John McGuire, the post was removed.

Village trustee Susan Schultz said  “I think it was very offensive, and I think it lacked good judgment on behalf of an employee working for the village, and I agree that discipline is necessary… This is a severe image of what our employees are saying about this board.”

Schultz claims Koudelka has done this before and needs to be punished. Mayor Jim Rauckman said “I thought it was a very poor reflection and embarrassing for our village the way it was stated.”

Trustee Brian Wells said “It’s not flattering, but I think he has the right to say it and there’s probably a bunch of people who agree with him. … I don’t think we should do anything. I don’t want to create any more rift with the fire department.”

Chief McGuire said “I don’t know what policy he violated. … I think it was a bad post. He should have had a lot more tact. It made him look bad plus it made the fire department look bad. … I agree it was offensive, but offensive isn’t against the law. He didn’t break a village policy. He didn’t break any law. … I know it’s wrong. He knows it’s wrong. Everybody knows it’s wrong.”

More on the story.

By the way… have we discussed the need for fire departments to have social media policies?

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
  • Here is an interesting follow up. Monday evening, November 12, 2012, Swansea Mayor Jim Rauckman’s house caught fire. Apparently his son’s cooking ignited the blaze.

    Kody Koudelka was one of the firefighters who responded and believe it or not Kody rescued the Mayor’s cat!!! Word has it the Mayor gave Kody a hug after the fire and they had a discussion about his situation.


  • Andrew

    From some of the comments in the post, and in the linked article, it sounds like a case of “We don’t like it, so he must have brokjen SOME rule, all we have to do is find it.” I think a lot of weight should be given to what the post actually said. “The Chief is a poopyhead” is a lot different than “On eleven occasions, the Chief has raped young boys” (JUST AN EXAMPLE, FOLKS, JUST AN EXAMPLE). And, as noted in the news article, the electronic media policy doesn’t apply to police or fire, so before they discipline the guy, they have to figure out just what rule he violated. And they can’t pass one today and say he violated it yesterday. Be interesting to (a) see the original post, (b) look at the local policies being cited, and (c) see how this turns out.

  • Jim

    We had a prominent firefighters workmans como attorney give a presentation at our Local Union meeting. He said that 50% of all claims are being rejected because of Facebook. Our state Union Vice President said that 25% of all discipline being given out has to do with Facebook. He said what used to be hearsay is now typed out proof. People need to realize what they right on Facebook can and will be used against you. We had a person, insult an officer on Facebook and then complained when they were disciplined. What you type can have consequences.

  • Pingback: Illinois Firefighter Will Not be Disciplined for Facebook Posting | Fire Law()


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