South Bend Fire Department bans firefighters' work-related use of Facebook

South Bend, IN -  South Bend Fire Department bans firefighters' work-related use of Facebook.

It's a growing debate, Facebook in the workplace. Recently the South Bend Fire Department approved a policy that says its firefighters can no longer post pictures on facebook, tweet or blog if it has to do with their job.  

In fact, according to the new policy, firefighters cannot even list the fire department as their employer on Facebook. 


It's a growing trend that is taking hold all across the nation and its stirring up quite the debate about where to draw the line between protecting a public image and protecting an individual's right to freedom of speech.

South Bend resident Patrick Fitch agrees with moves made by agencies to keep their employees from speaking out through social media.


"You are a public servant you have an image to uphold. If you did not understand that going into it well then it was your responsible to know that going into it," says Fitch.


The firefighters union would not address the case, but some of them told ABC 57 off camera that they think it is unfair.


South Bend resident BrittneyRranft agrees, "If they are not doing anything wrong and it is completely innoccent then it is violating the First Amendment's freedom of speech because we are free to say what we want even if it is on the internet, or a magazine. It is our opinion, it is what we are entitled to."


The South Bend Fire Department does see some value in Facebook. It has its own page much like other local public entities including the Elkhart Police Department and the City of South Bend.


People like Fitch say all those agencies need to be mindful of what their employees do when it comes to their personal Facebook pages.


"Everyone puts on an image at work and an image outside of work and if those conflict to much then the employer has a right to protect itself."


The union for the fire department has some concerns reguarding the policy which they say they plan on voicing during next month's Board of Safety Public meeting next month. However, that does not guarantee there will be any amendments made to the new policy.

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