FDNY Suspends Nine Over Racist Memes

Nine FDNY firefighters have been suspended without pay following an investigation into racist memes. It is not clear when the suspensions actually took place but confirmation of the discipline became public in a New York Times article published last week.

The memes were reportedly shared via text messages last year following death of George Floyd and the resulting protests that followed. They became known after the message thread was shared with African American firefighters, who reported it to the Vulcan Society. The thread was then deleted.

FDNY reportedly confirmed that three officers were reprimanded for comments related to the use of hose streams to control protesters. It is not clear from news reports whether they were part of the same investigation. None of those involved have been identified.

BTW, our next program addressing free speech, social media, and firefighter discipline is October 13, 2021.

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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