Firefighters under fire over campaign photo

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

A photo of five firefighters and a dispatcher with Orange County Commission candidate Lui Damiani has landed the county workers in trouble.

A representative from Damiani's campaign said it was the fire union president, Andre Perez, who organized the photo shoot just after the union endorsed Damiani  in the race for the commission seat.

"Members of the Orange County Fire Rescue can't participate in any political activities on county property or use county equipment [for that purpose]," said Lt. Eddie Brown of Orange County Fire Rescue.

The firefighters were in their department-issued uniforms and standing in front of a fire truck at a fire station in the Pine Castle neighborhood when the photo was taken.

According to an investigative report, one of the firefighters and the dispatcher were on duty at the time.

The report said the dispatcher left her post for nearly two hours to participate.

Perez sent an email to WFTV's Daralene Jones in which he acknowledged the union has a long-standing practice of participating in photos with candidates it endorses.

In the email he wrote, "This is the first time, to my knowledge, that anyone has been disciplined for doing so.... And we will challenge the discipline."

Damiani said in a statement that any entity that endorses a candidate is responsible for understanding the rules.

One of the firefighters in the picture was not reprimanded.

Officials determined that he was the only one who had not planned to be a part of the photo. He said he was dragged in just before it was taken by Damiani's wife, who was also the photographer.