A Washington state firefighter has been fired after 17 years on the job because he sent emails with religious content from his department’s account.
According to MyFoxSpokane.com, Capt. Jon Sprague, who started the Spokane County Christian Firefighter Fellowship in 2010, received his official letter of termination on Wednesday from the Spokane Valley Fire Department. Sprague said he was merely using the most efficient way t communicate with members of his Fellowship and caused no harm.
“It’s not like I can just walk next door and talk to another employee about some of these things. We have 10 fire stations and three different shifts. The only real way is to communicate that way,” Sprague said.
Sprague maintained that the emails he sent were only to the 46members of his fellowship and no complaints had been received.
Spokane Valley Fire Chief, Mike Thompson, however, said by using taxpayer-funded email for personal reasons, Sprague violated department rules. He also disclosed that administrators issued a direct order to stop, but Sprague was ultimately fired due to insubordination.
“All along the way we’ve given him a direct order, and he refused to do that,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile, Sprague plans to appeal and believes the content of those emails is protected under law. He also believes the matter is a personal difference.
“Never had been disciplined in the past,” Sprague said. “Everything seems to revolve around just those emails and the Christian content.”
“He can stand at the station, hand out fliers, we don’t have a problem with that. He just can’t use department-funded systems to do what he wanted to do,” Thompson countered.