Toronto fire fighters fired for inappropriate social media posts

Posts may have been taken out of context, says TPFFA
By Liz Foster
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 09/18/2013

Three Toronto firefighters have been fired after posting inappropriate material on social media.

Toronto Fire said the three firefighters were terminated for breaching the city’s policy on social media. The decision came after a month-long investigation following a media report that accounts connected to two firefighters in Scarborough published sexist tweets.

Stephan Powell, spokesman for Toronto Fire, told Canadian Labour Reporter that the tweets clearly violated the city’s policy on social media.

“It’s not acceptable for the city nor the fire service,” Powell said.

Two of the firefighters dismissed for online conduct have been identified as Matt Bowman and Lawaun Edwards. Tweets connected to the firefighters’ accounts were reported in August, and the firefighters were suspended with pay before being fired on Sept. 16.

Bowman and Edwards, along with a third employee who was not named, were let go after the investigation revealed a “pattern” of public comments that ran counter to city policies, said Powell.

“The city of Toronto tries to foster an environment that is both professional and ethical,” Powell said. “We have high expectations of our employees to demonstrate these core values.”

While little information is known about the third employee, CityTV reports a photo posted to Facebook was the cause of dismissal.

The Toronto Professional Fire Fighters’ Association (TPFFA) promised to fight for the reinstatement of the three employees, saying it is “outraged” by the firings.

In its official statement TPFFA said the dismissals did little to help Toronto Fire create an ethical and professional environment.

“These terminations neither address the specific issues that have been raised nor do they promote the alleged objective of the fire service,” the statement said. “The Association does not believe that the city has investigated this matter properly or considered the facts that were raised during the course of meetings between the parties.”

Union spokesman Frank Ramagnano said in August the two firefighters’ tweets may have been taken out of context, suggesting that some the posts may refer to quotes from popular television shows including The Office and South Park.

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