Recent current events have shown the ease at which sensitive or private information may be spread worldwide via electronic means and the internet in general. Something that may seem rather routine to us as the fire service may bring tremendous personal pain, anguish, and disgust to those not closely involved with our profession.
In order to avoid serious damage to our reputations and to protect the privacy of those we serve:
• Personnel shall not use any personally owned devices to photograph, document, or record any emergency scene/incident while on-duty and in attendance as members of the Fire Department at those scenes. For the purposes of this policy, personally owned devices include but are not limited to: film cameras; digital cameras; video recording cameras and devices, cell phones and cell phone cameras.
• Personnel may photograph, document, or record emergency scenes utilizing department owned devices with proper authorization from the Fire Chief or Incident Commander of the scene. Any electronic media documenting the incident such as digital pictures, video or other records of the incident that are collected by any member of the department in this manner are and shall remain property of the department.
• Such electronic media and/or other documentation shall be for internal, investigative or training uses and shall not be transmitted by any means outside the department unless expressly authorized by the Fire Chief or their designee. The Fire Investigator is authorized to transmit this type of information outside the department in association with an ongoing fire investigations as may be necessary as part of the fire investigation process.
• Fire department operations allow us access to situations, investigations and crime scenes from which the media and press may be excluded due to operational, safety, or investigative reasons. As such, electronic media, information, and pictures gathered at emergency/incident scenes must be strictly controlled to be in accordance with HIPPA and other regulations so as not to jeopardize patient confidentiality; fire, accident or crime scene investigations; or shine an unprofessional light on the department. Members who violate this policy will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension from the department.