[cifnmedia] Off-Duty Conduct Matters!

  • From: Sean & Kimberly Aaron <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: CIFN LIST <cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 19 Nov 2003 21:08:01 -0800 (PST)

Off-Duty Conduct Matters!
Provider: EGV
WRITTEN BY : Jerry Smith
E-Mail: jerryfire@xxxxxxxxxxxxx , DATE POSTED: 11/15/03
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ABOUT THE WRITER: Jerry Smith, a former Los Angeles City Fire Captain and 
California Governor's Office of Emergency Services Fire & Rescue Division 
Assistant Chief, retired from active service in 1987. After 42 years, he 
remains a "tell it like it is" advocate for firefighter rights and safety.
Jerry is also the WebBoard Administrator for the Emergency Grapevine, an 
"all-risk" message forum for emergency response and recovery personnel around 
the world. A public safety web site established in August 1997. And a staff 
writer for the award winning Los Angeles Firefighter. Official publication of 
United Firefighters of Los Angeles City - Local 112, IAFF, AFL-CIO-CLC. Jerry's 
regular commentary is also reprinted on several prominent Fire/EMS web sites, 
newsletters and print magazines. 


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FOREWORD: This editorial is about firefighter conduct and my concern for those 
who threaten a positive fire-service image while off-duty. To illustrate my 
labor of concern, a partying six-month probationary firefighter exits a 
chauffeured van to relieve himself on a catwalk before several witnesses in the 
Queens Midtown Tunnel. And according to a newspaper accounting his piddling 
effort sparked a terrorist alert. Refer to the link at the bottom for the full 
story. I would suspect this off-duty rookie firefighter had much explaining to 
accomplish with the FDNY investigating his behaving badly while off-duty. 

It wasn’t that long ago another probationary firefighter was involved in a 
rowdy off-duty bar fight that made the news wire. And once again, the media 
made sure his firefighter identity and behavior were made very public. In my 
day, this kind of public behavior would be considered a serious infraction with 
a board of rights, and possible suspension or removal from office. You either 
took your sworn oath seriously or you could be subject to the harsh penalties 
of not following department rules and regulations. There was no wiggle room for 
embarrassing yourself and the fire department you represent on and off-duty. 

CODE OF CONDUCT

San Diego, California Firefighters & Paramedics have this to say about conduct: 
“My fundamental duty is to protect or save lives and safeguard property in 
the service of my community. As a public employee, I will set a “good example 
in all actions and deeds.” I will never use my position for personal gain, 
recognizing it as a symbol of public trust. I will constantly strive to achieve 
the high objectives and ideals of this department and shall conduct myself at 
all times, both on and off duty, in such a manner as to reflect most favorably 
on the department.

I do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States 
of America and the constitution of The State of California. And I will respect, 
honor, obey and enforce the laws and ordinances of the jurisdiction in which I 
serve. Today, I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith 
and I accept it as a public trust. And I hereby rededicate myself to the 
citizens and visitors of the city of San Diego to ensure their safety in the 
discharge of my duties." END 

CONDUCT STANDARDS

Coatesville, PA FD: “Every member is expected to hold and maintain the 
public's trust to the highest possible standards. This trust is bestowed by 
virtue of appointment as a member to the Coatesville Fire Department. Public 
safety providers hold a unique position and are charged with the sacred 
responsibility to protect the public from harm. Any act or violation that calls 
to question the integrity of a public safety provider will be viewed seriously, 
and dealt with appropriately. 

Every member of the Coatesville Volunteer Fire Department is expected to 
operate in a highly self-disciplined manner and is responsible for conducting 
his or her own behavior in a positive, productive, and mature way while 
representing the Fire Department. 

Conduct unbecoming a member will include that which brings the department into 
disrepute, or reflects discredit upon the member, or their integrity as a 
member of the department, or that which impairs the operation, efficiency, or 
safety of the department or member, or that which violates the public trust in 
the public safety provider or department." END 

UNBECOMING CONDUCT: “A member shall conduct himself at all times both on and 
off-duty in such manner, so as to reflect favorably on the department. Conduct 
unbecoming a fire fighter shall include that which tends to bring the 
department into disrepute or reflects discredit upon the member as a member of 
the department, or that which tends to impede the operation of the department 
or the member.” (Manchaca, Texas VFD) END 

CHARACTER COUNTS

(The Michael Josephson Institute recommends and I quote:) 

Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat or steal • Be reliable — do what you 
say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good 
reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends and country 

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant of 
differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the 
feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully 
with anger, insults and disagreements 

Do what you are supposed to do • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do 
your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act 
— consider the consequences • Be accountable for your choices 

Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others 
• Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly 

Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Express gratitude • 
Forgive others • Help people in need 

Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Stay 
informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect 
authority • Protect the environment.” END 

A PRICE TO PAY

Lastly, your off-duty conduct is a direct reflection on who you are, your work 
ethic, and how seriously you accept your personal responsibility as a FIRST 
RESPONDER in your community. If your conscious thoughts are always in the 
forefront of those YOU serve, and the public image you work so hard to protect 
while off-duty, we have much in common. 

SOURCES:
http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/10613.htm 
http://www.charactercounts.org/ 
Copyright: Emergency Grapevine



Sean A. Aaron (CIFN*1)
Central Illinois Fire Network
cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
www.geocities.com/central_illinois_firenet


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