Fire Department’s social media flap has gotten out of hand

19th century --- by Raffet --- Image by © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS

19th century — by Raffet — Image by © Gianni Dagli Orti/CORBIS

This is getting to be like the French Revolution — heads are rolling everywhere, and the tumbrils keep rumbling up.

The Fire Department has now fired three people for inappropriate social media posts (while Richland County has fired a fourth).

And — and this seems more extreme than anything — it’s shutting down fire stations for fear of retaliation.

This has really gotten out of hand.

I wonder — if Chief Aubrey Jenkins and other city officials had known there would be these other cases coming down the pike, would they have fired the first guy? Now there’s this precedent, and they seem unable to stop themselves from firing one after another.

I sort of have the feeling they were thinking, “Fire this one guy, and that’s the end of the problem. Others so inclined will be forewarned.” Reckoning without the fact that others had already done likewise.

Anyway, this has gotten messy.

Meanwhile, Black Lives Matter is having a rally Saturday. Um, excuse me — didn’t they just have one? Isn’t that how all this started? Is this different groups of people calling themselves “Black Lives Matter,” or what?

It’s all a bit disorienting…

15 thoughts on “Fire Department’s social media flap has gotten out of hand

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Maybe it was race memory — not that I have any recent relatives who are French.

      But… I’ve had some really fascinating recent breakthroughs on my family tree (tracing lines back through history via the Web has become an addiction for me), and once we get back to the times of, say, Richard the Lionheart (yes, I’ve gotten back that far), it seems I’m descended from some Norman knights. Some of them were NOT nice guys. They were, in fact, the kinds of guys the French Revolution was aimed at overthrowing, centuries later. And people like them deserved it.

      (If Kathryn saw some of the people I’m descended from — to my surprise — she’d REALLY be making me check my privilege. But here’s the irony — I didn’t inherit ANY of that stuff! Several of my ancestors were topped for rising against the monarch — and at least one lost the family castle in addition to his head. Which ticks me off… So I may have inherited a taste for living in castles from my forebears, but no castles…)

      Still, as much as I condemn those tyrannical lords, I’ve never felt much affinity for the French Revolution. I would have been a Federalist at the time, and appalled at the way Jefferson was taken in by those Jacobins…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Actually, I should have said, “OF COURSE it was intentional! is always ready with clever historical allusions appropriate to the day!”

      2. Claus

        The problem with going back that far, you didn’t lose that castle you lost a portion of it along with 4000 of your closest relatives. I’ve traced my history back to Norway where our name changed once someone bought a specific tract of land, then we took that name. Depending on how reliable is, someone did a bunch of work on my mom’s side and got names back to the 600’s. Considering that they were in France, it’s possible both sides of the family were trying to kill each other at one point or another. I take this stuff with a grain of salt, in the grand scheme even if verified true it really doesn’t mean much in the real world.

  1. Claus

    Jenkins made his bed, now he has to lay in it. As if he didn’t already have enough reasons for firefighters wanting to stay or work in Columbia. If all firefighters posted about their disgust with people blocking traffic lanes would he fire everyone of them and leave Columbia without a fire department? The guy is not a leader.

    1. Barry

      jenkins has handled this poorly, which is no surprise. Talk to any firefighter off the record about any number of decisions he’s made over the years.

      Columbia and Richland are firing people left and right for Facebook posts while ignoring people breaking the law by marching on the interstate.

      And State Senator John Scott is accusing Joel Lourie of all people-seemingly- of his own version of racial profiling because Louie wants answers to allegations of Sexual harassment by the rec director against other rec commission employees. How intellectually dishonest can Senator John Scott actually be?

      Everything is backwards.

      Welcome to Columbia and Richland County- where things are always backwards.

      So glad I don’t live there.

  2. Karen Pearson

    And people are being arrested for threatening police via the internet. We’re starting to descend to tribal warfare. Not good.

  3. Assistant

    First-responders are in the habit of responding first, it’s the nature of their work and they are serious about it. So I can see them getting excited about a main artery closing because they may need to save a life by going down that road any minute.

    In a way, the intemperate FaceBook remarks show dedication and frustration at anything that impedes a first-responder’s mission. I’ll be having some brewskis tomorrow with a friend who used to volunteer at Station #29 out off Garners Ferry Road, so I can get his take on the tumult.

  4. Bart

    A agree, this has gotten too far out of hand and based on the firing of the fire fighters, it is just the beginning to another overreaction and kneejerk decision by a leader who has no leadership qualities.

    If the BLM marchers closed down a highway, interstate, or street and one of their own was in need of emergency services and they couldn’t get through to provide assistance, you can bet charges of racism would be leveled at the responders by BLM and BLM wouldn’t accept any responsibility for their failure to respond in a timely manner. Lawsuits would probably follow if the person needing immediate medical attention died or ended up with a permanent disability.

    As for the fired firefighters, my only criticism is the rhetoric could have been toned down a little but it was on social media, not on an official fire department website. I have a friend who is a fireman in another state and he is one who would have posted a similar remark on Facebook. But, the city where he works is about as PC as they come and it is likely if he were to post anything similar, he would be fired. And, riding with him when we worked together, it is a safe bet he feels the same as the fired firefighters.

    Hopefully the fired firefighters will file suit against the one who fired them.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        I agree with you in the case of the third person fired. His comment fell WELL short of being offensive or threatening. Just his luck he was still on probation. And I’m sorry, there was something short of firing they could have done — unless there’s some law against sitting a probationary employee down and having a chat with him…

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