The Fire Chief of the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company from Harford County, Maryland, has denied the appeals of four firefighters disciplined over their Facebook comments relating to local restaurant.
Recall that 9 firefighters in total have been disciplined over a Facebook thread that began May 30, 2012 when a firefighter criticized the Sonic Drive-In for not granting firefighters the same 10% discount given to police and military personnel.
The issued began when one member posted: “Even when myself and a full engine crew are in turnout gear at Sonic for lunch, the manager still says only police and military get discounts. Cool, thanks, we appreciate the support.”
Fellow firefighters chimed in with comments like “Yea I smell a delayed response there”, “Go set the Dumpster on fire, “Wait til its on fire, then see what he says… Epic fail on sonics part” and “Let it burn”.
After the Facebook comments came to the notice of the fire department an internal investigation was launched. Deputy Chief Rick Davis disciplined the firefighters involved, issuing reprimands, suspensions, demotions, and terminations. Four members who were suspended and/or demoted filed appeals with Fire Chief Eddie Hopkins. Those appeals were denied.
The appeal of another firefighter who was terminated is still pending with the department’s Board of Directors.