Fairview firefighter makes joke on photo of animals running from wildfire

A screenshot of the photo with Fairview firefighter Rodger Bryant's comment highlighted.

FAIRVIEW, Okla. — Fairview’s full-time firefighter is facing investigation after posting comments on a Facebook photo of animals running during a wildfire.

Rodger Bryant, Fairview’s only paid career firefighter, on Monday commented, “Flushing out the Demorats ! (sic)” on a photo of a herd of donkeys running down the street away from a wildfire in Oregon.

Posted Monday on Facebook by the Alabama animal rights group 4Legs4Justice Animal Advocate & Rescue, the post also included advice from an Oregon forest ranger about appropriate behavior around the wild animals such as deer, elk and bear looking for safety during the wildfires, which have devastated the West Coast over the last several weeks. The photo used by the group could not be verified as coming from the Oregon wildfire.

A commenter replied, “good lord this is about animals and peoples (sic) lives not politicians,” to which Bryant wrote, “I guess I just threw some politics in it!” He also reacted with a “laugh” emoji to several further comments criticizing his response.

One comment identified him as a Fairview Fire Department firefighter.

Another comment said she had sent screenshots to the fire department, which had deleted her post, presumably because Bryant’s Facebook links to the Fairview, N.Y., Fire Department page.

“Wow that just scared me!” Bryant replied.

When reached for comment Tuesday, Fairview Fire Chief Travis Fortune said it was the first he was hearing of the post. He said the department does not promote political agendas.

“There’s no room in our department for that (behavior), and it will be taken care of this week,” Travis said.

An investigation into the situation is underway with Fairview City Manager Jerry Eubanks, who said he also had received emails of complaint. The News & Eagle provided screenshots of the post and comments when asked.

Eubanks pointed out Bryant’s comment was not made on an official Facebook page of the city, but said he strongly disagreed with his comment. 

“The people who have been living in areas where wildfire has been a daily occurrence, causing death and untold destruction of property, need our prayers and support,” Eubanks said. “We are in the throes of perhaps the most contentious presidential race in our nation’s history. But we should not allow that race ... to affect our humanity and civility, for the sake of a joke.”

The FFD is a volunteer organization with 22 volunteers and one paid firefighter on staff.

Bryant was not available for comment on Facebook or through Travis as of this story’s publication.

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Ewald is copy editor and city reporter for the Enid News & Eagle. Follow him on Twitter, @oualexewald.

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