Facebook Claims Three More Firefighters

Three Florida firefighters were disciplined for taking an ambulance to a house party last May, according to a report issued last week. They were caught after photos from the party appeared on another firefighter’s Facebook page.

Three Spring Hill Fire Rescue firefighters, Capt. Raymond Elliot, along with firefighters Chris Rodeo and Zac Lyons, were disciplined for taking an on-duty ambulance to a nearby house party and fraternizing with the guests while on duty. The photos were shown to the Spring Hill Board of Fire Commissioners  on September 8, 2010, by a resident, Rob Rogoski, who claims he found them on Facebook.

Rogoski also alleged the personnel may have been drinking and engaging in inappropriate sexual acts at the party. Apparently some photos showed "women simulating sex acts with syringes that were partially filled with liquor", and others drinking.  Rogoski reportedly told a local newspaper "I cannot stand it when county government asks for more money when it can't manage what it already has."

A fire department investigation into the allegations found no evidence that the firefighters drank or engaged in inappropriate behavior, but it did find that the firefighters were guilty of misusing Spring Hill Fire Rescue District property. Each firefighter was suspended for eight hours without pay.

The firefighters submitted written statements apologizing for their mistakes and also provided details explaining the incident. They stated they had been invited to a farewell party for a friend who was leaving the country for a new job. The firefighters declined the invitation, but the friend persisted saying that there was an excess food at the party and asked them to come by and at least pick up the extra food. Captain Elliot along with the two firefighters relented, and said they posed for the photos during the brief time they were on scene.

All three employees appealed their discipline to the chief claiming the penalties were excessive, but the charges were sustained. IAFF Local 2794 has filed a grievance on their behalf.

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.

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