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Facebook Comments Lead to Bel Air Firefighter Suspensions

Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company Chief Edward Hopkins suspended members of the fire company over "inappropriate" comments on Facebook that suggested ignoring any fire calls at Bel Air's Sonic Drive-In.

Nine members of the were reprimanded this week over inflamatory comments made on Facebook.

Three members of the fire company were suspended for four weeks along with a recommendation to the company Board of Directors they be terminated from the fire company, , spokesman for .

In addition to the three suspensions, one member was demoted from regular firefighter to entry level firefighter and placed on a year of probation, a second was demoted from lieutenant to firefighter and the remaining four were given verbal reprimands and additional work details, according to 's .

The action stems from a Facebook thread started May 30.

On Monday, June 4, a concerned citizen emailed the fire company and local media about the Facebook posts, which were made by firefighters with the Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company.

Attached to the email was a screenshot of the conversation on social media.

The posts revolved around firefighters' outrage over being denied a discount at the .

"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," the initial post read.

The post received 20 comments which included suggestions that someone set the business dumpster ablaze and that the fire company not respond if the business were to catch fire.

"Yea I smell a delayed response there," one user wrote.

Additional comments such as, "Let it burn," and "Wait til its on fire, then see what he says... Epic fail on sonics part [sic]," followed.

Bel Air fire chief Edward Hopkins told ExploreHarford.com Tuesday, that he recognized some of the posters as people who possibly belong to other fire companies, according to a story on the site.

“This is unacceptable behavior of our membership," "I am extremely disappointed and ashamed that any of our members would make these statements. This type of activity has been dealt with swiftly. I cannot express my disappointment to these members enough."

President of the fire company, , expressed similar sentiments when he spoke with WBAL.

"I'm embarrassed. I'm disappointed I have to stand in front of a camera and apologize to everyone, to firefighters everywhere, over these few individuals who believe that they are entitled to some special consideration," Coliano said in the WBALTV.com interview.

Check out the on Patch.

John Citzen June 08, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Not every firefighter vol or paid is a hero they are people doing a job. I was a medic and nothing on my uniform said HERO. We didn't run down a machine gun nest to save our unit, throw ourselves on a granade, they didn't all run it burning buidings etc.. We throw the term HERO around way to much Sports stars, just cause you work in a job that Heroics MIGHT be possible. There are cops that DWI, Firefighters that set fires, soilders that go off their nut and shoot innocents, doctors that leave scenes of accidents etc... Discounts for none then if you have a medal award from the president that says Hero then you get a free small cheezy fry. You don't like a buisness policy don't go there pure and simple. I was Volunteer fireman the only thing I got was a sense of purpose and a way to serve my community. No Heroic no cape etc... just doing my job and moving on.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:29 AM
"Risk life and limb"? When? Where? In Harford County? LOL! Real firefighting is dangerous business, and real firefighters are injured every day protecting others. When was the last time one of these vollies really, truly, risked life and limb for others? And for you to call them "heroes" is laughable, and sounds like the propaganda they spout about themselves. They claim they are just like real firefighters, except they don't get paid? Fine, hold them to that standard: If a real firefighter was so stupid as to attack the citizens he serves, he'd be disciplined...and so should these squirrels.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:35 AM
If you think not having a real fire department in this county is somehow saving you money, then you really don't get it.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:36 AM
No, they most certainly are NOT professionals...and thanks for conceding that point.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Well, let's see now...if a real firefighter (i.e. a professional, career firefighter, not a vollie wannabe) attacked a business online for not giving him a discount, he would be in deep do-do, whether he was a "top responder" or not.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:39 AM
Great post, right on target...thanks!
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:42 AM
No real firefighter (i.e. a career professional firefighter) would accept the term "hero"...he would say he's just doing his job. And a vollie wannabe who rides fire engines as a hobby is no "hero" either.
MVPHKR June 08, 2012 at 05:45 AM
This incident provided a real good look at the mindset of Harford County's volunteer wannabe-firemen. I hope it inspires a serious discussion about what passes for public safety here.
Just Me. June 08, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Love your post John! & reading what Rich Gardiner said on his blog on here, it seems that BAFD was also upset by the fact these volunteers asked for a discount and made it seem as if they is why they volunteer. As I said in a previous post, my fiancee feels the same way you do, he's doing his job ... he's not a hero however, he does strive to be a role model ... which is something these volunteers didn't do too well with their actions on FB.
Longtime Joppatowne Resident June 08, 2012 at 01:47 PM
Oooook deary. Whatever you say......... Sounds to me like you need something else better to do with your time.....
yeahok June 08, 2012 at 02:12 PM
LOL. MVPHKR, I've seen a lot of hatred & negativity come from you. I have no doubt in my mind you are career. If you're so concerned about HC's downfall & public safety... maybe you should stop investing so much time complaining about them online in public forums & go do something about it.
Volunteer Fire Fighter supporter June 08, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Are these fire fighters on here to defend themselves? To accept the word "hero?" No they are not so the fact of the matter is that they probably do not consider themselves "heros" but in others eyes they are. I personally wish I could say what I really want to say to you but it would be in bad taste just like your "wanna-be" comment.
Just Me. June 08, 2012 at 02:39 PM
I have a question for all debating here ... take the fact that they were firemen out of the equation and just make them another volunteer of some kind ... Would it still be okay for some to write derogatory comments online regarding a business establishment while they were representing your company/organization? For example, if it was a HarCo Humane Society volunteer who wrote about how PetsMart wouldn't give them a free or discounted bottle of soda while they were there volunteering their time there for the Humane Society helping to find animals homes, would that be okay? Would it be unfair of the Humane Society to say they no longer would like them to volunteer because their behavior made the Humane Society look bad? Would you still be in an uproar then because they aren't a "hero" as some have argued on here? (Which to some animals those volunteers are life savers and the Humane Society does need them) Even though you are volunteering and that is a noble thing, you do still have a code of ethics to follow with any organization you help because you are representing them and their organization and your behavior directly reflects upon them. Therefore, if you do something they feel makes their organization look bad or is inappropriate I feel they have every right to request you not volunteer any longer. And as noble as it is to volunteer as a fireman, if you are a member of the fire dept you must remember that at all times you are representing the fire department.
Volunteer Fire Fighter supporter June 08, 2012 at 03:03 PM
This is a very good point! But think of it this way also, would a HarCo Humane Society volunteer writing something be sent to the media? Would this all be blown this way out of proportion? Would this actually be a conversation that we are having right now? No....because they were firemen and damn good ones is why we are having this conversation. I do agree with your statement above but these being great firemen and a huge part of the company is why people should look past a stupid comment. Furthermore, the comments that were made about setting a dumpster on fire was not even a member that stated that. Everyone has half of the story and until the truth is told then no one should be debating at all. You may feel differently about the whole situation and these men and women that report every day from their own free time and help others. No questions or discount wanted. Sonic also should clear up if they actually asked for a discount or were just told that they were not entitled to one out of their own free will when they showed up in their gear.
Volunteer Fire Fighter supporter June 08, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Also a comment does not make them any less of a hard worker or delete all the time and help they have put in day after day.
harfordman June 08, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Just so everyone know that are reading these post that MVPHKR was trying to join a Vol Fire Company in Harford County a few year's back only to get declined for reason's that are unknown,Can you tell by his negative post's.
harfordman June 08, 2012 at 07:10 PM
Im heading out now for 2 week's vacation in about 10 min and will not be on line for a few week's and when I get home this will be all forgotten about,To all the Vol.Fire Dept member's out there thank you and god bless.
Volunteer Fire Fighter supporter June 08, 2012 at 07:33 PM
Amazing Harfordman! Have a great vacation and thanks for the support for our volunteers!
yeahok June 08, 2012 at 07:40 PM
snap!
MVPHKR June 09, 2012 at 05:09 PM
And we can tell by your posts that you are a semi-literate Harford County vollie wannabe fireman.
MVPHKR June 09, 2012 at 05:14 PM
LOL! You vollies need to make up your minds! Am I a career firefighter, or somebody who was rejected for membership in Harford County VFD? Or maybe, just maybe, I am somebody whose house burned down while the "heroes" stood outside and squirted water through the windows. Or maybe, just maybe, I am somebody with an interest in the community. Or maybe, just maybe, I am already a vollie here, and I am sick and tired of the juvenile antics of so many vollies. Keep guessing! :-)
Volunteer Fire Fighter supporter June 09, 2012 at 05:42 PM
My guess and I think I am 100% right is that the only immature antics going on anywhere is on here with you and your inappropriate comments! JACKPOT! Now if you will excuse me I have better things to do then reply to anymore of your ignorance. Have a great day!
Raina June 10, 2012 at 01:55 AM
Just so you know Harford county DOES have paid fire and ems. Station 12 in both Aberdeen and Edgewood are paid. Sure they work on Federal property but they respond to many incidents within the county. And also there are county wide paid paramedics now.
yeahok June 11, 2012 at 01:01 PM
No thanks :)
Deskboy in Miami June 11, 2012 at 07:46 PM
What if the complaint was never sent? What if a dumpster was set on fire? Think about it. looks like Chicago democrat politics, or union activity at the least.
MVPHKR June 15, 2012 at 06:45 PM
Well, this is what passes for fire protection in Harford County, a good old boy network thinking they are better than ordinary folks.
FirefighterAdvocate June 19, 2012 at 07:51 PM
I believe it is poor business practice for any business to discriminate! If you are going to offer discounts to public servers don't pick and choose...include them all. What is really sad about the situation is most firefighters in Harford County are volunteers and should be given discounts considering. Being volunteers does not slow them down or stop them from promptly responding to an emergency. They respond faster than the paid Harford County Sheriff's Department! Go figure. STOP DISCRIMINATING SONIC!!!!
Alyssa Silks July 19, 2012 at 09:34 PM
I know so many immature tool-bags my age that are a part of the volunteer firefighting brigade in Harford. I feel as if they mainly do it for their ego- [the few I know of] think along the lines of "Chicks love firefighters, I'm a firefighter". Dude- get laid on your own time & let people that actually WANT to volunteer out of the kindness of their hearts do it... not volunteer because they think it boosts their "macho". Posting immature things on FB is exactly the type of things they do. They don't get their way, so they pull the "I'm a firefighter" card. No- you're a volunteer. You should be doing this because you WANT to... not because you think there are benefits to it. The reward is having the good feeling of helping your community- & if that isn't enough of a reward for you for filling a volunteer position, then I don't know what is. & Just so there is no confusion, I'm talking about the type of guys that volunteer- whom, two of them, both tried asking me out on a date on multiple occasions & I politely declined (because of boyfriend, busy with school, etc.)- & had pulled the "firefighter card" on me. Then proceed to cuss me out for "rejecting" them: "yada yada yada, I'm a firefighter- your lucky if I save your ass" yada yada yada." I don't care if you're a "firefighter" or not- you're an inconsiderate, arrogant, degrading a$$hole. However, I wish the best of luck & thanks to those volunteers working hard to protect our community.
Bel Air Native July 20, 2012 at 01:07 AM
STFU!!!! This topic has been OVER FOR WEEKS. Sorry that the fireman broke your heart. Get over it.
Ahmad0001 December 18, 2012 at 06:05 AM
That fire fighter may very well save your life one day. Just because that is the way it has always been it doesn't mean it is right. http://www.onlinedatastoragesite.com/softwares/why-you-ought-to-consider-online-data-storage-back-up.html

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