City says firefighter's Facebook post is offensive - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

City says firefighter's Facebook post is offensive

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One city says a Facebook post by one of its firefighters was both inappropriate and offensive to the community.

Cedar Falls Firefighter Shane Farmer says his private Facebook post back in September about the 2016 floods was not done maliciously and should not be considered a violation of city policies.

Farmer was asked to take the post down after the city received a complaint within 24 hours of the post being put up. Farmer took it down immediately.

The post was up for review Monday night by the Cedar Falls City Council.

The post has previously been reviewed by the Battalion Chief, who found no discipline necessary. Since then, Fire Chief John Bostwick and Public Safety Director Jeff Olson have reviewed the post and determined it was in violation of city policies and a verbal warning documented in Farmers personnel file was necessary.

Putting his life on the line for the Cedar Falls community, firefighter Shane Farmer says he loves nothing more than protecting the citizens of Cedar Falls.

Farmer says, although not done in an official capacity, safety was his intent when he posted this Facebook post to his private account during the 2016 floods.

"Public Service Announcement. . .If you live in Cedar Falls and your property or access to it was affected by the 2008 floods then I would suggest getting things shut up and finding a safe place to stay for the weekend. The river in CF is predicted to crest Saturday at noon above 99 feet (102 feet in 2008) which is the second highest of all time.

If I have to come get you in a boat because you were smarter than the weatherman or too stubborn to leave your property you will get a stern talking to on our boat ride to dry land.

A case of beer may also be requested as punishment for your poor decision."

"The content and the delivery was sarcastic humor with noble intent. I posted it on my personal Facebook page, in my owner words, not delivering myself as any type of authority," said Farmer.

But Public Safety Director Jeff Olson says the department received an email complaint saying the post was offensive to those who have or were dealing with the floods."

"As I read this, the highlighted area, 'just rubbed me the wrong way' doesn't sound friendly. It doesn't sound professional or helpful in any way. The condescending tone that the citizen states in his email doesn't reflect a courteous, helpful, professional manner," said Olson.

Under city policy, not specifically a social media policy, employees are required to be respectful towards residents and avoid acting in a light that would reflect badly on the city.

Firefighter Farmer says it was a violation of his freedom of speech. 

He also says the city did not follow correct procedures during his grievance process.

The city council voted unanimously to uphold the decision of Director Olson.

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