Reporting Derek Valcourt
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The president of Baltimore’s fire union apologizes after two of its union members post online pictures of the mayor’s face on toilet paper.
Derek Valcourt explains it’s embarrassing to the fire union.
Their relationship with City Hall and the administration was already strained over the decision to close fire companies. This latest flap doesn’t help.
Firefighters tackle some of the nastiest infernos but now Baltimore’s fire union is trying to stamp out a different kind of fire after two union members circulated online pictures of the mayor’s face on a roll of toilet paper and a picture of Fire Chief James Clack in a toilet bowl.
The tacky toilet images are strongly condemned by union president Rick Hoffman, who says the responsible persons are being internally disciplined. He said, “I’ve already issued apologies to the mayor and Chief Clack. This local does not condone the actions of a few members that took it upon themselves to make this union appear in a negative light. It’s our intention to move forward and better our relationship with the fire administration and the mayor and continue to provide the same professional services to the citizens of Baltimore.”
The mayor has little to say on the issue.
“I thought it was silly. I’ve already moved past it,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.
It’s not the first time the online activity of firefighters has created problems. Earlier this summer, anger and frustrations over fire company closures bubbled up on Twitter. Firefighters blasted the mayor and chief with online criticisms. The fire department is now working on new social media guidelines to rein in what firefighters can and can’t post about the department online.
“Our intent is not to silence the voice of our membership but simply to establish guidelines and boundaries for which our members can communicate concerns, but it must be done decently or orderly,” said Kevin Cartwright, Baltimore Fire Department.
City fire officials expect their new social media policy to be completed by the end of the year.
Fire union representatives would not identify which firefighters were responsible for the toilet paper images, calling it an internal disciplinary matter.