Alabama Firefighter Suspended for Posting Photos Online

Feb. 23, 2009
Officials said the firefighter took photos of a man who was killed in a wreck and posted them online.

An Arab firefighter has been suspended from work without pay for three days. Arab Fire and Rescue Chief Ricky Phillips said the firefighter was suspended because he took photos of a man who was killed in a wreck and posted them on a social networking website. The firefighter apparently took the photos with his cell phone camera.

The firefighter's identity was not released because of Arab's personnel policy. Posting the photos is not a criminal offense, but was in very poor taste, Phillips said.

"As I understand it, the photos were posted for a very short time," he said. "Of course, it doesn't matter how long they were posted. They should never have been posted in the first place."

Phillips said he was made aware of the posted photos by Mayor Gary Beam. Someone the firefighter showed the photos to alerted an Arab city councilman, who then alerted the mayor.

"The mayor asked for my recommendation for discipline and I recommended a three-day suspension as allowed by the city's personnel policy for an incident such as this," Phillips said. "Mayor Beam accepted my recommendation and suspended the employee."

"But we have put policies in place to prevent something like this from happening again," he continued. "The only photos that will be taken at scenes will be for official and investigative purposes, and only by approved personnel."

Phillips added that the photos will instantly become property of the City of Arab and can only be released by authorization of the fire chief.

The firefighter was suspended from his shift Thursday and will be suspended Sunday and Wednesday. Those are three consecutive workdays for him because firefighters work 24 hours on and 48 hours off.

Phillips said he regrets that the incident happened.

Republished with permission from The Arab Tribune

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