The more than a dozen photos that had been posted online show the women, one wearing a miniskirt and the other a pair of short cutoffs, washing Engine 7, each being carried by a firefighter, being fitted with fire helmets, and holding onto a fire pole.
"They definitely are borderline photos," interim Fire Chief Harlan Vincent said. "It's some something we do not condone here at the Ruidoso Fire Department."
"Or at the village as a whole," Lee added.
Vincent said as the interim fire chief he takes responsibility. Sometime in late June or early July he said he received a phone call from a woman.
"I was told that it was
a modeling agency that wanted to send two ladies down here in cocktail dresses and they wanted to take pictures with our guys and the trucks. And she assured me that the photos would be tasteful and professional. And I agreed."
Vincent said he is asked weekly if someone can take pictures at the Sudderth Drive fire station, photos that include equipment and personnel.
"Our tourists come through here and ask, 'Hey, can we take a picture with your guys in front of a truck?' So it's not that it's uncommon. So I called the duty captain and I told him that there would be a modeling agency that would be coming by to take some pictures of the trucks and with them."
Vincent said he was told that when the women showed up, two married firefighters declined to be in the photo shoot. Two single guys posed with the women. While Vincent and Lee said there was no ill intent, Vincent added the two firefighters "felt some shame in this."
Lee said a bad judgment call was made.
"They should have, first and foremost, said 'Is this photo shoot in the best interest of the village? Does it support fire protection, fire safety and community?' That's my position. If you can't in clear conscience say that, then the photo shoot should not have happened."
Lee said when taking pictures at public village facilities is for someone's personal benefit, and is not supportive of the community, then photo shoots are not OK.
"And so we learned from it," Lee said. "The people involved will be disciplined. And it will not happen again, period."
Vincent said the justification of promoting fire safety and wholesome values has already been made a part of picture-taking using fire department personnel and equipment.
"When you go to the (online) site, then it's this young girl in more seductive pictures that ties our guys to her purpose, which is not wholesome, it's not fire protection and it's not community," Lee said. "So it was for her personal gain and that's absolutely not allowed, not acceptable."
Lee said similar standards will go in place across the village.
"Because it's not just the fire department," Lee said. "We get requests to use the airport."
Vincent said for those in the community who are offended by the pictures, he is truly sorry.
"The other thing is I'm sorry for the rest of our guys that have been embarrassed here at the fire department. I always want to make sure that we instill the fire department as a safe place for the community to go. Whether it's people coming in to get blood pressure checks, somebody not feeling well, if they need directions, if they come to tour our buildings, it's a safe place for them always. And we don't condone that kind of behavior ever."
Written by Ruidoso News
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix