Thursday, January 30, 2014

Firefighters Gagged

Firefighters Gagged
FDNY: ‘Never Speak Against the Family’
(Photo by David Greene)
By David Greene
BRONX, NEW YORK, JANUARY 30- The fire lines at an emergency are no longer the only barriers that separate New York's Bravest from the general public as a new policy regarding social media is now preventing journalists from photographing firefighters in their off-hours.
For ages it has been the New York City Police Department that has been accused of holding the media at bay, but the new fire department policy is now preventing journalist from coming into the firehouse and photographing members participating in the most basic human tasks-- like standing around a Christmas tree.
After photographing members of Squad 61 purchasing a Christmas tree along E. Tremont Avenue, this journalist sent a request to the FDNY's public information office on December 17 asking for permission to photograph members around their decorated tree.
A follow-up call prompted no response from the department.
Having visited firehouses for over a decade and having been welcomed into houses and have watched firefighters treat members of the media and public almost like family, it was a surprise walking into the squad.
Your first greeted into Squad 61 by a sign in bold block letters that reads, "Never speak against the family in public."
A captain at the company blamed the lack of hospitality on the FDNY's new policy regarding social-media, adding, "They’re looking for someone to make an example of."
One firefighter stated he didn't mind the policy while a second fireman offered, "That's what you get when you get a newbie half-naked in bunker pants," referring to a New York Post article on a probationary firefighter reprimanded for a racy photo posted on the Internet, while partially in uniform. 
A source with the Uniformed Firefighters Association who declined to be identified, stated, "It's not a new policy, it's a policy that has been in place for decades... you've always needed permission from the department to get in."
The source then asked when the request was made, before offering, "I don't know I don't work down there."
The source then added, "I don't understand this story and why this story, I think it was in the Post, was news because this has been the policy that goes back at least into the last decade and related to your individual request, unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you."   

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