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One volunteer firefighter was suspended and five part-time firefighters were fired after a hazing video in Texas was made public. It happened at the Westfield Fire Department in the Houston area.
Despite someone on the video warning not to post it on social media, the video was uploaded to Snapchat. It made its way to KPRC-TV where a reporter showed it to Chief Stephen Whitehead yesterday (Monday). Chief Whitehead says the incident occurred at the department’s main station and that the firefighter being hazed just got off rookie status.
The chief didn’t hesitate to deal with this, in an apparent effort to get the bad news over and done with in a short period of time. Smart move. Chief Whitehead, whether you like his decision or not, provided a clear message in the strong statement released today (see below).
I’ve been pointing out for years that firefighters do most of the same things to get into trouble today that they’ve done for generations. The only difference now is they often hand the chief — and sometimes law enforcement — clear evidence of wrong doing on a silver platter by taking video or pictures and posting it to social media. Social Media Assisted Career Suicide Syndrome (SMACSS) in all its glory on display — ruining careers and eating away at the image of the department.
The video, which is nearly five minutes in length, shows the firefighter on the ground, tied to a backboard with several straps and periodically doused with bursts of water from the rear valve of a tanker truck. Other men are then seen pouring mustard, flour, popcorn butter, chocolate, yogurt and ice on the firefighter.
“Dude, you’re crying. You want to quit, just say it,” one firefighter is heard saying on the video.
Even the men on the video seemed concerned about the incident getting out to the public.
“Hey, y’all, don’t be putting this (expletive) on social media,” one man is heard saying.