US firefighter Presley Pritchard claims she was fired over her Instagram photos. Picture:
US firefighter Presley Pritchard claims she was fired over her Instagram photos. Picture:

Firey sacked over racy Instagram snaps

A former firefighter with a 137,000-strong Instagram following claims she lost her job over her "racy" social media photos.

Presley Pritchard, from Montana in the US, worked as a firefighter and paramedic at Evergreen Fire Rescue for almost three years before allegedly being fired last August.

The 27-year-old has since filed a discrimination and wrongful termination complaint with the Montana Human Rights Network against the department.

The saga, which was first reported by the Daily Inter Lake, began in 2018 when the fire department received an email from a "concerned taxpayer" that criticised Ms Pritchard's social media usage for being too racy.

The resident described Ms Pritchard's pictures as being in "very poor taste", claiming she was "posing practically nude", AP reports.

US firefighter Presley Pritchard claims she was fired over her Instagram photos. Picture:
US firefighter Presley Pritchard claims she was fired over her Instagram photos. Picture:

However, the fitness influencer's Instagram feed is almost entirely dominated by snaps and videos of her working out in activewear, with several photos also showing her in her firefighter uniform.

As a result of the email, Ms Pritchard had to attend a meeting with the department's board, which determined that while she had done nothing wrong, it was time to introduce a social media policy.

But one was never rolled out, so Ms Pritchard continued to post to Instagram as usual.

The firey was eventually demoted after being accused of making money from advertisers off the fire department - although her sponsors declared she had only ever been paid for fitness-related posts.

She was also accused of sharing a photo of herself in a fire truck taken at an accident scene, but Ms Pritchard insists the picture was actually taken during a training session.

She also clashed with managers after she began selling T-shirts with the slogan "Firefight like a girl" and received an official letter claiming her social media accounts had violated two staff policies. She was also told she had to delete fire department-related content or lose her job.

Ms Pritchard refused and was stood down in August 2019 after taking five weeks of leave after undergoing surgery.

In her complaint, Ms Pritchard claims she was unfairly targeted because of her gender and that make colleagues who posted similar workout pictures weren't reprimanded.

She is now seeking compensation for lost wages, time and emotional stress and claims the situation caused her to seek medical treatment, Fox News reports.

"Several male employees in the department have photos of themselves in uniforms and turnouts in front of fire trucks and at the department on their social media accounts," Ms Pritchard's complaint reads.

"Importantly, Evergreen Fire Department does not have a social media policy and never has.

"I was directly targeted due to how I looked in my gym attire at a public gym."

Evergreen Fire Rescue chief Craig Williams told AP in a statement all complaints were taken seriously.

"While the complainant never made or reported any allegations to the district while she was employed, the district hired an independent investigator to complete an investigation concerning the validly of the complaints," the statement reads.

"After a thorough investigation, no evidence was found to support any of the complainant's allegations."

A state investigation is now under way, and the matter could end up in court if the dispute is not resolved.

In an interview with VICE, Ms Pritchard said she had gone public to call out the double standards she had encountered at work.

"It's just really, really hypocritical," she told the publication.

"It just sucks because you see firefighters out here with these sexy firefighter calendars, and if females did that … everyone would call them sluts and whores.

"But it's OK for guys, just like how it was OK for every guy in my department to have photos of themselves at training."

However, it's not the first time a female employee has been targeted over their social media use.

Last year, it was revealed an Instagram star and police officer known as Germany's "hottest cop" was back at work after receiving an official warning over her bikini photos.

Adrienne Koleszar, a police officer from Dresden, has managed to amass a 653,000-strong following on social media in recent years after being named "the most beautiful policewoman in Germany" in 2016.

Her Instagram feed is filled with photos of the 34-year-old in bikinis and workout gear as well as snaps of her enjoying exotic locations all over the world.

But in late 2018, she was told by bosses she had to choose between police work or the glamorous life of an Instagram model, with senior staff unhappy with her frequent sexy bikini shots.