A a probationary firefighter was reportedly very excited to meet his new coworkers at a Detroit fire house. Apparently, when a new fireman is hired, the new recruit typically offers a gift as a gesture of kindness. It is not required, however, many firemen have participated in the longstanding tradition. However, a new fireman decided to give a gift out of the ordinary and this gift led to him being fired.
Here’s What Happened:
Second Battallion Chief Shawn McCarty spoke with FOX 2 News Taryn Asher about the racially insensitive gift that new recruit Robert Pattison gave to his fellow firefighters at Engine 55, a fire station where 90 percent of the people who work at Engine 55 are black. So, to introduce himself, the Caucasian fireman decided to bring a watermelon wrapped in a pink ribbon. He was fired before he even started. McCarty revealed to Asher that many of the firemen were instantly offended. FOX 2 spoke to Pattison by phone who claims it was not a joke – and he did not mean to offend his fellow firefighters. But he clearly did.
McCarty shared with Asher that a gift from a new recruit is a tradition for firefighters, however, the gift is typically something that doesn’t cause so many problems.
It’s not mandatory, it’s voluntary, he said. You come in bearing gifts. The usual gift is doughnuts but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in.
Asher asked McCarty if it was racially insensitive to bring a watermelon to a black firehouse and he responded.
To some people, McCarty said.
Fire Commissioner Eric Jones says the Fenton native was officially discharged. In a statement Jones says:
There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department. On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter (probationary employee) engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee.
In a world where Trump is president and KKK rallies are running rampant, it’s hard to understand why a trial firefighter made such a ridiculous choice. However, should he have lost his job over the gift?