Ill. Fire Station's Web Access Turned Off

Firefighters at one Peoria fire station won't be perusing popular fire Web pages such as - or any other site, for that matter - anytime soon.

That's because Internet access was recently shut off at an undisclosed station after it was discovered that at least one employee there had visited "inappropriate" Web sites.

Like many businesses, the city's computer usage policy states employees cannot access defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, threatening, racially offensive, harassing or illegal material on the Internet.

But the computer policy is rather vague on consequences, stating: "Employees found in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action. The use of inappropriate material or language, or violation of copyright laws, may result in the loss of the privilege to use this resource."

Standard procedure is to shut off the violator's Web access, said Cathy Roger, director of the city's Information Systems Department, which regularly monitors all city Web activity. So that's exactly what Fire Chief Roy Modglin did.

"When I became aware of it through the IS Department, I followed city policy and had access to that station removed," said Modglin, who notes this is the first case of misuse of a fire station computer. "I don't feel it's important to go into which station it was. It was handled appropriately, immediately. . . . The Fire Department has a zero-tolerance policy."

Neither Modglin nor Roger would identify the station involved nor describe the nature of the inappropriate site. We're still looking into it, though, and have requested Web activity reports under the Freedom of Information Act.

Roger is quick to point out that employees of other city departments - even her own - have been caught looking at improper sites, and this situation is no worse than others.

"To me, it wasn't horrendous," she said. "It was stupidity."