GVFRS POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
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P6. Social Media Policy

Purpose

This policy establishes GVFRS social media technology and on-line communication use procedures and protocols which are intended to mitigate associated risks from the use of this technology where possible.

Policy

  1. Introduction:
    • Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, (further called GVFRS) acknowledges that use of on-line technology provides several useful benefits including training opportunities, provides information about GVFRS programs, services, projects, events, and useful information for the organization and its members. It also allows for the dissemination of information to the public for recruitment, safety education and public relations purposes.
    • This policy establishes GVFRS social media technology and on-line communication use procedures and protocols which are intended to mitigate associated risks from the use of this technology where possible.
    • The policy applies to all members and employees of GVFRS.
    • For the purposes of this policy, the term on-line technology and communication is defined as resources including, but not limited to; posts, instant messaging, texting, paging and social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Instagram, Snapchat, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Delicious, Digg, Chat rooms, photo/video sharing sites, email, and any other electronic information sharing services, websites, and/or blogs.
    • When engaging in social media or social networking activities, all personnel will maintain a high level of professionalism in both on-duty and off-duty conduct that is consistent with the honorable mission of our Department. The publication of any statement, comment, imagery, or information through any medium of communication indicated herein, which is potentially adverse to the operation, morale, or efficiency of this department, will be deemed to be a violation of this policy. This includes names and images or photos of victims or their property.
    • Nothing contained herein shall prevent members and employees from using their personal computer and communications resources to participate in communications on the Internet or other communications system so long as members and employees DO NOT utilize the words Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, Inc and/or GVFRS on any social media sites without the express permission of the President, Chief, or Board. This includes any photo or image of any GVFRS member wearing GVFRS uniforms, T Shirts, Hats, or any other apparel displaying GVFRS insignia.
  2. Posting Policy for GVFRS owned Equipment
    • GVFRS reserves the right to remove posted content that does not comply with GVFRS Policies on GVFRS hosted social media sites. All posts and comments uploaded to GVFRS social media will be periodically reviewed. All posts and comments are public records subject to public disclosure under the Public Records Act.
    • All GVFRS social media pages shall be approved by the Chief/Board of Directors or their designees. All social media content shall adhere to all applicable laws, regulations and policies including the records management and retention requirements set by GVFRS policies, state and federal laws and regulation.
    • GVFRS understands the value of such technology, but also understands the concerns and issues raised when information is released that violates privacy manner (intentional or unintentional). Therefore, no information, videos, or pictures gathered while on department business (this includes emergency calls, meetings, drills, details, trainings, or anything obtained on organization property or at organization functions) may be shared or posted in any format on any computer or social media site without the approval and written consent of a Board member.
    • Under this restriction, members and employees are prohibited from disseminating or transmitting in any fashion photographs or images or type of information that can be used to identify a person receiving emergency medical assistance to include; addresses, faces, license plates, etc. Any such transmission may violate the 1996 (“HIPAA”) privacy rights of such individuals and may result in a department, criminal and/or civil proceeding being commenced against members violating this provision of the policy.
    • Your use of department leased or owned equipment constitutes your consent for the department to monitor and intercept your communications while in transit, after receipt or while store on department leased or owned equipment under Title I and ii of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986.
  3. Posting Policy for personal owned Equipment
    • GVFRS understands members may maintain or contribute to social media sites and/or engage in posting outside of GVFRS duty times.
    • You are responsible for the content you post. Keep in mind that anything you post online remains in cyberspace forever, and information on networking profiles is published in a very public place. Even if you post anonymously or under a pseudonym, your identity can still be revealed. You should not assume confidentiality of information that you share through social media.
    • The department may monitor content on the web as it deems necessary and appropriate for the efficient and effective administration of GVFRS and reserve the right to request removal of posts that violate this policy. Any violation of this policy is subject to disciplinary and/or legal action, including but not limited to, termination of membership from the department.
    • Always express ideas and opinions in a respectful manner. Think of what you say online in the same way as statements you might make to the media, or emails you might send to people you don’t know. Social media sites are not the forum for venting personal complains about other members, officers, directors, or even members of the public.
    • Always write in the first person and make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of the department. Use a disclaimer such as “The opinion expressed on this site are my own and do not necessarily represent views of Gloucester Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad” to make it clear that your views are not reflective of the views of the Department.
    • Always be aware that your comments may have the potential to cause ill-will, reduce morale, convey unintended position statement or the wrong impression or messages regarding the department policies and/or procedures or create a hostile work environment.
  4. Posting Guidelines
    • As a basic constitutional concept of law, a volunteer may comment on a matter of public concern. However, airing person workplace grievances does not rise to the level of a matter of public concern.
    • In that regard, members and employees must follow the following guidelines when discussing the Department on Social Media Websites:
      • Do not make any disparaging or false statements or use profane language
      • Do not make any statements or other forms of speech that ridicule, malign, disparage or otherwise express bias against any race, religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or protected class of individual
      • Make clear that you are expressing your personal opinion and not that of the Department
      • Do not share confidential or proprietary information
      • Do not violate Department policies including the Code of Ethics
      • Do not display Department logos, uniforms or similar identifying items without prior written permission
      • Do not post personal photographs or provide similar means of personal recognition that may cause you to be identified as an EMS provider, firefighter, officer or employee of the Department without prior written permission
      • Do not publish any materials that could reasonably be considered to represent the views or positions of the Department without authorization
    • GVFRS owns the right to all data and files in any department owned computer, network, cell phone or other information system. GVFRS also reserves the right to monitor electronic mail messages (including person/private/instant messaging systems) and their content, as well as any and all uses of the Internet on GVFRS computer equipment used to create, view, or access email and Internet content.
    • Members and employees must be aware that the electronic messages sent and received using department equipment are not private and are subject to viewing, downloading, inspection, release, and archiving by the Department at all times.
    • Inappropriate use of the Internet and online technology while on department business may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination as a member of the Department.

Change Log:

June 1, 2024 – Published to website

January 6, 2020 – Original