Update (04/14 10:30 a.m.) — The Las Cruces Fire Professional Fire Fighters Association has released a statement saying that the disciplinary against Mr. Lopez is in the “grievance stage”, and he is not facing termination or suspension.
According to the statement, the content of the photo is not the reason for the disciplinary action. The investigation is instead related to the use of the Las Cruces Fire Department brand.
The statement goes on to say that Mr. Lopez and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 2362 feel the portrayal of the Las Cruces Fire Department as anti-breastfeeding is inacurate.
Las Cruces, N.M. (KFOX) — Last month, a photo of a woman wearing her husband’s firefighting uniform while she was breastfeeding her newborn went viral. Now, it’s turned into a breastfeeding battle.
The photographer who took the photo, Tara Ruby said, “I was mad. I was mad for the mom and I’m mad for the husband that she has that’s supporting her in this.”
A source close to the investigation says the firefighter faces discipline up to unpaid leave.
“It just shows that they’re not supportive. Absolutely not supportive,” said Ruby. “There’s no different than, say, somebody dressing up in a clown suit and doing it. It’s the exact same thing, it’s just that there’s a story behind this photo and that it’s a powerful one and maybe one that no everybody’s ready to hear.”
A spokesperson with the Las Cruces Fire Department says because this is a personnel matter, they can’t talk about it.
Ruby says she feels like this is a step backwards in the fight to normalize breastfeeding, “We are pushing that boundary between a male dominated role and where we’re bringing in femininity into that position.”
Ruby is no stranger to controversy. This fall, her photo of Fort Bliss soldiers nursing in camo took the internet by storm. Ruby said, “And if we want to be a firefighter or a police officer or even active duty military, we can do that and we still have the rights as a mom to breastfeed our child.”
Ruby says this will not stop her from photographing mothers responding to their own motherly duty.
Las Cruces City Spokesman Udell Virgil tells the Las Cruces Sun-News newspaper that the fire department’s policy on uniforms does not specifically mention spouses. It’s also not clear whether spouses can actually wear uniforms. Udell also says Las Cruces has no policy regarding breastfeeding.