San Diego Fire Investigating Complaint About Interference With Filming In Public

The San Diego Fire Department is investigating a complaint filed by a freelance videographer who claims that a firefighter touched him as he was filming an EMS patient on a public street.

The videographer, J.C. Playford, was filming a female patient as she was being wheeled on a stretcher toward an ambulance when the unidentified firefighter confronted Playford and the two begin arguing. The incident occurred outside the 2015 Comic Con, and the patient is believed to be an actress in the HBO series Game of Thrones. Comic Con is an international comic book convention.

Here is a copy of Playford’s video of the incident. WARNING: explicit language!!!!

As obnoxious as Playford is, and as much as he offends our sense of decency – he is 100% correct. Any member of the public has a 1st Amendment Right to film incidents such as this in public, and governmental agents (I know we don’t think of ourselves as governmental agents but we are) cannot infringe on people’s right to do so.

There are a few things we can do (physically shielding or covering a patient, establishing safety or work zones, etc.) but at the end of the day… the best thing we can do in these situations is to forget about the cameras – and take care of business.

Another digital age training opportunity…

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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