Mission Firefighters Association opposes revised city policy

A Mission firefighter took to city council to publicly oppose revised policies which he believes follow a reprimand he received in August for helping and taking photos of a car accident while off-duty.

The reprimand was sent Sept. 24 to Michael Silva, a lieutenant with the Mission Fire Department and board member of Mission Firefighters Association, following an Aug. 16 car accident.

“You were witnessed to be at the incident within the accident scene operation boundaries while being off duty. Also you were in civilian clothing wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and sandals. You were also seen potentially taking photographs of the accident scene with a cell phone,” as per the reprimand.

Silva doesn’t deny helping.

“At that time, I believe it was the right thing,” he said.

The accident happened close to his house, and Silva decided to assist.

“The first engine was just arriving when we had multiple vehicles, multiple patients and I requested to see if they needed help. I was told by the incident commander, ‘Yes,’” Silva said.

He later took pictures which were posted on social media.

Standard operating procedures dictate fire department employees should wear protective clothing and equipment like helmets, boots, and turnout coats and pants while responding to emergency calls.

Silva said, “We all know, I’m off duty so there’s no way I can have my personal protective equipment.”

The efforts were disciplined through the written reprimand which would be followed by further punishment if repeated, Silva was advised.

He didn’t sign the reprimand and called it “micro-management,” during Monday’s city council meeting.

Silva spoke during the public comments portion of the meeting to address a revised copy of the department’s Standard Operating Procedures last week. It prohibits fire department employees from taking and posting pictures while responding to a call. It goes further.

“MFD Stations and personnel are strictly prohibited from creating or using a social media page on any platform that references the Mission Fire Department or MFD that includes photos of MFD property such as the Station, Apparatus, Clothing, Gear, or Tools in the photo,” the policy states.

Silva said it’s a violation of their constitutional rights. The association’s attorney sent a cease and desist letter to the city.

Mission’s public information officer said the city would not comment on personnel matters. Members of the council didn’t respond to Silva’s statements during the meeting, as is customary in public comments.