- The Washington Times - Friday, October 14, 2011

The removal of the District’s fire department spokesman and neutering of the agency’s Twitter account has left a void in the District’s “Twitterverse,” but members of the agency’s union say they plan to pick up the slack.

D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services spokesman Pete Piringer was shucked of his duties, which notoriously included the live-tweeting of emergency operations across the District, and temporarily transferred to the Office of the Secretary this week.

In his absence, the D.C. Fire Fighters Association has begun dabbling in Mr. Piringer’s former duties. On Friday, the union’s own Twitter account posted several messages — including some about ongoing operations.

The tweets seemed to begin Friday morning, one notifying followers of a track fire at Union Station. Around 11 a.m., the union tweeted this notice: “Update, Barricade situation 1900 Mississippi ave SE is under control.”

By afternoon, the union had issued 10 tweets on emergency operations.

Union President Edward Smith acknowledged that the group, which in the recent past had mostly tweeted links to news articles, planned to step up its activity.

“We are going to try to fill Pete’s shoes, though those are some shoes to fill,” he said  “Obviously it’s a valuable service and we want to continue that.”

The union is still sorting out the logistics of who will be posting messages to their @IAFF36 account and the scope of detail that they will offer, but Mr. Smith said he looks forward to restoring an informative service.

Via the @dcfireems Twitter account, Mr. Piringer formerly posted messages that included real-time information on emergency operations from the fire department’s scanners. Various D.C. agency leaders bumped heads several weeks ago over the type of information disseminated through the Twitter account, and officials decided to freeze the account in an attempt to get a better hold on the type of information being let out.

The @dcfireems account has come back online since arguments between reporters and agency leaders over its shuttering came to a head at a press conference in September. However officials said it would be more closely monitored and information that could harm investigations where officials were still on the scene would be left out.

Notably, no information on shootings or stabbings has been posted on the official account since it was revived.

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