Archive for August 12th, 2017

Of interest … social media posting costs battalion chief his job

Excerpts from


The Howard County Maryland Department of Fire and Rescue Services has developed a social media policy that prohibits employees from “posting or publishing statements, opinions or information that might reasonably be interpreted as discriminatory, harassing, defamatory, racially or ethnically derogatory when such statements, opinions, or information may place the Department in disrepute or negatively impact the ability of the Department in carrying out its mission.”

In January 2013, Kevin Buker, a battalion chief with the department, was watching a gun control debate on cable news when he posted on Facebook “My aide had an outstanding idea…lets all kill someone with a liberal…then maybe we can get them outlawed too! Think of the satisfaction of beating a liberal to death with another liberal.” Two department employees forwarded the Facebook post to another battalion chief and an investigation resulted. The department instructed Buker to review the post and remove any language inconsistent with department social media policy. Following this direction, Buker posted the following on his Facebook, “To prevent butthurt and comply with a directive from my supervisor, a recent post has been deleted. So has the complaining party. If I offend you, feel free to delete me…” and he continued that he would like to engage in debate on Facebook and that he is not ashamed of his opinions. Buker went on to state that the local and federal governments are all liberal Democrat and that free speech only applies to liberals and that he fought to ensure First Amendment rights and those rights were being lost.

Buker was subsequently fired and he then filed a free speech lawsuit claiming that his First Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed with Buker and upheld his termination. The court stated that the department has legitimate interest in efficiency and preventing internal disruption and that interest outweighed Buker’s interest in speaking in the manner he did. The court believed that his Facebook activity interfered with department operations, and that the department has a strong interest in limiting dissension and discord. Buker’s Facebook post led to dissension in the department and it significantly conflicted with his responsibilities as a battalion chief. There were now concerns regarding Buker’s fitness as a supervisor and that subordinates would no longer take him seriously.

Grutzmacher v. Buker, 2017 WL 1049473 (4th Cir. 2017)

thanks Scott

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Rolling Meadows Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

With a degree in psychology and in the middle of a one-year teaching position at Burlington Central High School, Scott Franzgrote decided on a whim to test at local fire departments.

Rolling Meadows hired him as a firefighter/EMT in 1990, when he says he realized fire service was his true calling.

Since then, Franzgrote has worked for only one department, rising through the ranks to become a lieutenant, battalion chief, deputy chief and, in 2012, chief.

On Tuesday, he announced plans to retire effective Sept. 29, when he’ll hand over the reins to Terry Valentino, who is now deputy chief.

Franzgrote, 53, said he came to his decision within the last year, realizing it was time to step aside and give others in the fire department opportunities to take on leadership roles.

He cited accomplishments including the upgrade of fire engines from basic to advanced life support, personnel development that’s led to more command staff members’ attaining advanced degrees, and a consolidation effort for some services with the Palatine and Palatine Rural fire departments. 

One thing that eluded Franzgrote was bringing to fruition a controversial plan to relocate and build two new fire stations. Talks of moving and/or constructing new stations have been ongoing since at least 2004 — two fire chiefs ago — but plans have changed, as has the direction of the city council.

In June, the council took an informal 4-2 straw vote to stay the course on current plans, which would replace Fire Station 15 at 3111 Meadow Drive with a new station to the south and replace Fire Station 16 at 2455 S. Plum Grove Road with a new station to the east.

He was paid $171,498 in 2016, according to documents on the city website.

Valentino, the new chief, has more than 40 years of firefighting experience, including 33 years at the Arlington Heights Fire Department. He was hired as deputy chief in Rolling Meadows in 2014.

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Fire calendar features local photographers

Quarto Publishing has released their 2018 calendar Fire Trucks in Action which once again features area fire scenes from local photographers mixed in with shots from throughout the country. Chicago, Cicero, Long Grove, South Holland, Dolton, Wheeling, and Glenwood are included. Photos included this year are by Eric Haak, Gordon J. Nord, Jr., and Larry Shapiro.

Fire Trucks in Action 2018 calendar

Fire Trucks in Action 2018 calendar

Fire Trucks in Action 2018 calendar

Fire Trucks in Action 2018 calendar

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Alsip Fire Department history

This from Mike Summa:

This was the Alsip Fire Dept.’s Engine 2013, a 1989 FMC Sentinel 1250/1000 with a 4 Door IHC S4900 cab.
Mike Summa
FMC Sentinel fire engine

Mike Summa photo

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