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Digital Imagery Social Media Workshop

Fire & EMS Social Media Workshop – Challenges and Solutions

A one-day workshop to address your social media and digital imagery concerns

This is the class you have been waiting for, the one that not only explains the major issues associated with digital imagery and social media in the fire service – but the only program that will help you draft your own digital imagery and social media policies!

Fire & EMS Social Media Workshop – Challenges and Solutions is a one day program that provides fire and EMS leaders with the tools they need to tackle digital imagery and social media problems. It begins with a review of the challenges, the laws, and the key digital imagery and social media cases involving the fire and emergency service. The course will then go where no course has gone before: a policy writing workshop focused on helping you and your department draft both a digital imagery policy and a social media policy.

The cases have become part of the folk-lore of the modern fire service:

  • A firefighter takes a cellphone video of a dead woman at an accident scene and forwards it to his buddies, who forward it on to others causing it to go viral
  • A medic takes a picture of a murder victim and posts it on Facebook
  • A firefighter posts a racially-charged rant on his Facebook page leading to protests and demands for his termination

As challenging as these cases are, there is another dimension to be considered:

  • An EMT who was terminated for criticizing her supervisor on Facebook is ordered to be reinstated by the National Labor Relations Board
  • A firefighter terminated for a Facebook rant files suit in Federal court claiming his 1st Amendment Rights were violated
  • An independent panel investigating a high profile social media case recommends that the fire chief be terminated for not having a policy nor training his personnel

Social media and digital imagery cases pose a serious risk to the reputation of fire and EMS organizations, not to mention the careers of the personnel involved and the careers of the organizations’ leadership. The cases also create the potential for civil liability and in some cases criminal liability as well. The reality is that cases like these are happening more and more frequently!

What is the solution? How do fire and emergency services leaders navigate the complex legal issues associated with digital imagery and social media, without running afoul of the 1st Amendment, employees’ rights to privacy, and collective bargaining requirements?

Digital imagery and social media policies are unlike virtually any other policies we have. First of all, they are not a “one-size fits all” proposition. Second, the risk of a well-intentioned mistake could lead to 1st Amendment, collective bargaining, and privacy violation claims. Every department has distinct needs that will differ even from a neighboring department.

Each of these factors will influence your policies:

  • Career
  • Volunteer
  • Combination
  • At will
  • Right to work
  • Collective bargaining
  • Municipal
  • County
  • Fire district
  • Regional
  • State
  • State or local ethics laws
  • State laws
  • Local ordinances
  • Civil service
  • Local level of comfort with social media and technology
  • Department’s use of social media to interact with public

At the end of the day you will leave with two draft policies that are:

  • Customized for your department
  • Legally defensible
  • Represent industry best practices
  • Fair, reasonable and responsible

Fire chiefs – bring your command staff, SOP/SOG committee, union reps and even your dissenters. Work collaboratively to find a solution that meets everyone’s needs.

The workshop portion of the course will allow attendees to work collectively on customizing their policies. Attendees are encouraged to bring laptops and copies of current policies (if they exist). Attendees may also choose to work with hard copies.

Policy language will be reviewed and debated to help your department find the right balance between individual freedom of speech for members and reasonable controls for management. The advantages and disadvantages of different approaches will be discussed and analyzed.

The goal of the program is for attendees to leave with at least  a rough draft of a digital imagery policy and a social media policy that are customized for their department.

The day will look like this:

8:30-9:00  Introduction

9:00-10:15 Review of digital imagery challenges

10:15-11:45 Review of social media challenges

11:45-1:00 Lunch

1:00-2:45 Policy review and drafting of Digital Imagery  Policy

2:45-4:30 Policy review and drafting of Social Media Policy


All programs are customized and delivered on a contract basis (no open enrollment). To schedule a workshop for your department or association please contact me at or by phone at 401 527-9111.


Comments from past attendees:

“Excellent presentation and workshop!”

“Great program and info”

“Very informative”

“Great job”

“Great class. Especially appreciate the very direct answers to questions”

“Curt, I thought the class was great. You did a nice job of preparing the presentation”

“The presentation was great. My head is ready to explode but that’s OK. Now I get it!”

“Nicely done, thank you very much!”