The EMS Handoff: Social Media in Fire and Emergency Services

The EMS Handoff

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Guest: Curtis Varone

Does being an emergency service worker impact your freedom of speech online on social media? Are there pictures you can take on scene? What should you do with pictures you need to delete? You may be surprised to learn what could happen if you delete an image prematurely. 

Chief Curt Varone, a retired fire chief and current practicing attorney, explores social media and its legal impact for those in fire and emergency services. This podcast has valuable information for those entering our service and critical for those currently practicing.

Previous: DNY EMS Local 2507 President Oren Barzilay Oren joins the EMS Handoff crew to talk about the 25 anniversary of the FDNY and EMS merger.

Varone has over 40 years of experience in the fire service, retiring in 2008 as a deputy assistant chief with the Providence (RI) Fire Department. He is a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. Varone has written two books on legal issues in the fire service, is a contributing editor for Firehouse and runs Fire Law Blog. He remains active as a deputy chief with the Exeter (RI) Fire Department.

Show Highlights

  • Evolution of social media related discipline
  • Social media and packing hose
  • Digital migrants versus natives
  • ‘Ostrich’ social media policies don’t work
  • Pickering Balance Test: Free Speech?
  • Pictures on scene
  • Dangers of glamourizing roles
  • Images/videos and the public
  • Records laws/FOIA as a criminal offense
  • Redaction and the law
  • You’ll always lose a fight on social media…even if you win
  • The two checkboxes of 1st Amendment protection
  • Social media culture in emergency services
  • Social media as proof of lying
  • Respond. Don’t react. create policies for digital and social media.
  • Create a personal maxim for your online conduct
  • NJ, CT, and CA criminalizing on scene images

Connect with Curt Varone

Resources/Articles Mentioned in Podcast

  • Author: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services
  • Author: Legal Handbook
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