- Medal 'victory' for forgotten Falklands hero as government U-turn paves the way for paratrooper to receive top gallantry award
- The world's most beautiful hotel facades
- EXCLUSIVE - Beauty queen 'murderer' claims he is 'in pain' after shooting dead his mistress and her sister Miss Honduras with TWENTY TWO bullets... but still won't admit he's guilty
- Former British infantryman joins Kurdish fighters in Syria defending beleaguered town against ISIS
- Former Scotland Yard detectives say young boys were murdered by Westminster paedophile ring
- The 'hidden epidemic': Thousands of Australians believed to be suffering from Lyme disease forced to travel overseas to seek treatment as government continues to dismiss it
- Woman 'sacked for turning off colleague's power washer at car showroom during two-minute silence for Armistice Day'
- Moscow Zoo unveils rare red panda Zane from Dublin
- Are Australian parents the hardest working in the world? Mums and dads spend the most hours at work by world standards
- Wealthy Americans pay £64,000 to dine with Wills and Kate at New York museum fundraiser for their old university
4 Suspended, Demoted Bel Air Firefighters Lose Appeals
More from MD
- Governor-Elect Larry Hogan Launching A Thank-You Tour
- Delaney wins in Md.'s 6th Congressional District
- 18-year-old woman carjacked at gunpoint by three men in Bethesda
- Republican Larry Hogan scores biggest upset of the night as he wins Maryland gubernatorial race despite opponent's support from Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton
- Maryland Governor: Hogan pulls off unexpected upset of Brown
Four Bel Air Volunteer Fire Company firefighters, who were suspended and/or demoted for their improper Facebook posts, have lost appeals of the disciplinary actions, Chief Eddie Hopkins said Monday.
An appeal for a fifth firefighter, who is facing termination from the volunteer organization, is still pending before the board of directors, according to Hopkins.
"Everyone who got suspended, obviously, they appealed and their punishments were upheld," Hopkins said.
The firefighters who were suspended, demoted or both were disciplined by Deputy Chief Rick Davis. All four appealed those actions to Hopkins, who upheld the punishments.
The firefighters had made posts on a member's Facebook page in early June suggesting they not respond to any fire calls at the Sonic Drive-in, on Route 924, after the member complained about not receiving a discount. One post suggested setting a fire in the Sonic's Dumpster.
Hopkins said three members were suspended for 30 days.
Of that group, he said, one member will be placed on six months probation once he returns from his suspension. The other two will be reduced in rank upon their return – pending a review by Hopkins – and will also be placed on six months probation.
A fourth member, who wasn't suspended, was demoted from a suppression officer to a firefighter, Hopkins said.
None of the five members, including the one facing termination, has been identified publicly by Hopkins, who has cited personnel confidentiality.
Hopkins said the challenge he faces as head of Harford County's largest and busiest fire company is he does not have the luxury of terminating people for "every infraction."
"I don't want to cut my nose off to spite my face," Hopkins said, adding he was very disappointed by the firefighters involved in the Facebook posts.
"What's disappointing is these are some of my top responders, my seasoned people, which makes this much more difficult to deal with," he said. "They're guys who may not be in the top 10 or 20 [responders], but they are consistent guys who I can rely on."
"I just wouldn't have expected the manner of comment coming from them," he added. "I really hope other members can learn from this."
The Facebook posts and the fallout from them created a stir in Harford's volunteer fire service. The county has a dozen private volunteer fire and ambulance companies that provide all the fire protection in the county and the bulk of the emergency ambulance service.
The incident prompted questions about social media and discount and/or gratuities policies at law enforcement and public service agencies like fire companies.
The controversy also arose at a time when Harford County Executive David Craig is trying to exert more control and accountability over the private organizations, which collectively receive $10 million in annual financial support from the local government.
Hopkins has said the Bel Air company had a social media policy in place before the Facebook incident that advised members to use discretion but, in light of what happened, that policy is being re-examined. Policies differ from fire company to fire company in the county, a spokesperson for their umbrella association said previously.