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  1. #1
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    Default Media on fire scene

    Does anyone know the law in Illinois about limiting media on a scene. We have an annoying reporter from a local paper that seems to keep getting in the way. We don't mind he's there but needs to be restrained at times.

    How can we keep him out but not get taken to court??


  2. #2
    Forum Member dragonfyre's Avatar
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    I don't know about Illinois law but I highly doubt you can fight "freedom of the press".

    One of the things we discuss in the Public Relations class I teach is "Open View" where anyone can see anything without restriction. If you don't put up a tarp at an accident scene, any member of the public can see it without restraint.

    You do have the right to set limits for public safety, if the scene's too hot to not be in proper gear, and for scene preservation. Set hot and cold zones for the pubic and the media.

    If you're working on someone's property, as opposed to the on the road, the property owner has the right to keep anyone they care to off their property that is not involved with the fire or rescue.

    Remind him that if you do keep him back it's for his own safety. After things have calmed down take him on an escorted walk through the scene. Try to build a good relationship with him and his paper as you never know when you might need them to promote a fund raising or community event.

    Just don't do what was done in North Carolina a few years ago where the fire crews turned 2 hoses on 2 tv cameramen. That image will never go away as they kept filming during the whole incident. I have a copy of the film and use it in the PR class also.
    Steve Dragon
    FFII, Fire Instructor II, Fire Officer I, Fire Appartus Driver Operator Certified
    Volunteers are never "off duty".
    http://www.bufd7.org

  3. #3
    Forum Member VFF16's Avatar
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    Push back your public safety boundaries ( as far as you need to) We like a few reporters but there are some who are ignorant and just don't use their heads.

  4. #4
    Forum Member pasobuff's Avatar
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    If need be, even cordon off the scene - use caution tape etc.....if you have media who want to get closer, like what was said above - you need to work with them and cultivate a good working relationship....let them know they will be allowed in, be allowed to interview someone (authorized PIO) etc...but while active work is being done they need to remain in a safe area. If it is a larger or longer scene, make an area accessible only for press.....

    For a photo op, in the past I have allowed a member of hte press to stand just inside a line, get their shot, then return to the other side - again, it is cultivating a good working relationship.....that is the biggest thing in my opinion.

  5. #5
    Forum Member FWDbuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ffemtnordike View Post
    How can we keep him out but not get taken to court??
    Put up perimeter of yellow tape. Show Po-leese man yellow tape perimeter. Show po-leese man pain in *** reporter. Tell po-leese man "if reporter crosses yellow tape, lock up reporter."

    End of problem.
    "Loyalty Above all Else. Except Honor."

  6. #6
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    I agree keep a good relationship with your local media. But we have had a few incidents that were easily remedied. First was a newspaper photographer who ducked the yellow tape and proceeded to enter the the building of a arson in a strip mall. Was not a safety issue but we were waiting for investigator to arrive. We grabbed him quick and the cops had a quick talk with him and a call to the supervisor who assured us that was not the papers policy. Another was with a reporter following the engine very close on a MVA call. Again had the police on scene have a talk with him.

    In both of these cases the reporter could have gotten in more trouble. However keeping a good relationship is important. Remember you want pictures of your department working in the paper, helps with funding when the time comes.

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