January 27, 2012 11:28:00 AM
JACKSON -- Jackson Fire Chief Raymond McNulty has told firefighters not to post any comments that could hurt the department on their social network sites -- or post photos of themselves in uniform or with city equipment.
McNulty's memo came after a former assistant fire chief posted on Facebook that only two of 28 recruits had passed a minimum standards test, The Clarion-Ledger reported.
"Although they fail, we cannot fault them because this is the second or third firefighter recruits class that have the majority of them failing," wrote Tony Davis, who left the department in 2006.
McNulty confirmed by email that only two recruits passed the test on their first try, but he refused a request for an interview, the newspaper said Wednesday.
He wrote that the social media memo explains the city's official rules and regulations. City spokesman Chris Mims said Jackson does not have a social media policy but is developing one.
"Employees should be honest in their use of social media and maintain high regard for the public interest. All information disseminated should be completely accurate," McNulty said in the memo.
Firefighters shouldn't use aliases or post content -- such as rumors or racist or sexist comments -- that is inconsistent with the duties and ethics of a firefighter, he wrote. They should clearly state that they're giving their own opinions, not that of the department, he said.
Officers are allowed to comment on issues of public concern but not personal grievances.
Firefighters also are encouraged not to post information regarding off-duty activities that may bring their reputation or that of the department into question.
They're discouraged -- but not prohibited -- from using online dating sites. Those who do use such sites cannot use photos of themselves in uniform or with city equipment, the memo said.
In the metro area, some fire departments have a policy and others do not.
"I do know that this is a hot topic among employers all across the country, and Pearl Fire Department is researching the issue at this time," Pearl Assistant Fire Chief Brad Thornton said.
On the other hand, Ridgeland Fire Chief Matt Bailey said his department has a policy that addresses not only social networking, but also Internet use while on duty.
"We do tell them to use good judgment, and so far we really haven't had a problem with it," he said.
Davis clashed with several fire officials, including McNulty, when he was with the department. He resigned in 2006 amid a controversy over the suspensions of five firefighters, but said at the time his departure was not a result of that.
"McNulty is trying to dictate how a person can address the issues or the events in a public forum," Davis said.
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