Firefighter-paramedic defends social media use
City officials raised concerns about Presley Pritchard posts on her Instagram and Facebook pages, some of which feature her fire uniform
By Scott Shindledecker
Daily Inter Lake
EVERGREEN, Mont. — Social media posts by an Evergreen Fire Rescue member led to a discussion on the posts and their possible effect on the department at Monday’s board meeting in Evergreen.
Presley Pritchard is a paramedic and firefighter with the department as well as a self-described public figure and social media influencer. She has more than 27,000 followers on Instagram. She posts often on her Instagram and Facebook pages, sometimes while wearing her fire uniform and in front of Evergreen Fire equipment. Most of Pritchard’s other posts show her working out.
Recently, Evergreen Fire District Board member Jack Fallon became aware of those postings and raised concerns about them.
Monday, the matter was discussed with Pritchard stating her case as to why she believes her posts are not inappropriate or harmful to the department. She told the board that she believes she has been the victim of gender discrimination.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve dealt with this,” Pritchard said. “I use my fitness account on Instagram as a way to portray a healthy lifestyle that is easy for others to understand, follow and hopefully inspire them to make healthy, beneficial changes in their lives.”
Pritchard said she was thankful for the support of her fellow firefighters and other board members in the matter, and harshly criticized Fallon for voicing concerns about her personal social-media activities.
“It’s 2018 and women can do [expletive] now,” Pritchard said.
“[Fallon] was going around saying that I was going to make it hard for our department in attempting to get a levy passed,” she added, referencing the department’s plans to seek a new levy following a failed effort in April. “When he sent out some of my posts, he left out captions and comments that accompanied the posts which showed their positive nature.
“When we were going for the levy, it was OK to go out and knock on doors, but not post positive images on social media?” she asked. “Hopefully, there won’t be a social media policy. It’ll be a shame.”
Fallon said his belief is that work and personal social media posts should be kept separate.
“Work’s work and personal is personal,” he said. “It keeps things simple. I’ve seen people prosecuted, fined, terminated for their social media posts.
“I’m just saying there needs to be a policy and an approval process,” he said. “The district already has a policy about posting pics from scenes. There’s no discrimination going on here. On your [Pritchard] page, there is a mixture of personal and professional posts.”
“When you mix the two, I have no idea how people will react to this,” Fallon said.
Evergreen Fire District Board Chairman Brodie Verworn, who is also a member of the Big Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, said he can see both viewpoints, but knows the department must develop a social media policy.
“We are going to look at other departments in the valley and see what their social media policies are and talk about what is right for us,” Verworn said.
Verworn said some departments don’t have any social media policies and others have some that are very stringent.
“For 12 years with Big Mountain, we’ve never had an issue,” Verworn said. “In terms of keeping public and private posts separate, I agree with Jack. We will go through the process, bring it to the department, but the chief (Craig Williams) will have final say on it,” Verworn said.
Verworn said the board won’t rush into any decisions about a social media policy, but he did say it was at the top of their list.
Copyright 2018 Daily Inter Lake