Falmouth Fire Rescue Department deputy chief Michael F. Small has been demoted following an internal review of a Facebook image in which he was holding a bottle of beer while behind the wheel of a car.
Chief Mark D. Sullivan said this week that Michael F. Small was removed from his duties as deputy chief and, following a period of paid administrative leave, is back as an acting lieutenant.
Chief Sullivan declined to comment further on the matter and referred all inquiries to Julian M. Suso, town manager.
Mr. Suso did not discuss the specifics of this case as personnel matters were confidential, but he did say that the town has “general standards of behavior for town employees,” and many departments—including the fire department—have additional standards of conduct included in their collective bargaining agreements.
Alleged infractions are reviewed through any and all applicable standards of conduct, Mr. Suso said. He added that the town’s standards do not explicitly apply to Facebook or other online social media, and while there are no plans to address this gap, “it is something we could address down the road.”
Lt. Small did not respond to a request for comment.
Lt. Small was placed on administrative leave last month after he posted on his Facebook page, which has since been deleted, a photograph of himself behind the wheel with an open beer bottle in his hand. The caption for the photo read in part, “You can’t drink roadies on a motorcycle anyway, but you can in Nana’s borrowed 1985 Camry!!!”
Possessing an open alcohol container is a civil infraction punishable by a $500 maximum fine. The offense is applicable whether the vehicle is moving or stationary, but a police officer must observe the offense.
Lt. Small was promoted to deputy chief in September 2011 after serving as acting deputy chief for nearly a year, and before that he held the rank of captain.