A Baton Rouge fire captain is being suspended for 10 days without pay for using offensive language while he was at one of the city-parish’s fire stations, a Fire Department official said Tuesday.
Capt. Derin Hairford along with the 600 employees in the Fire Department will attend a diversity training class provided by the East Baton Rouge city-parish, said Chad Major, assistant to Fire Chief Ed Smith.
Major said the incident occurred Aug. 14, and about five or six days later, another employee reported the incident to the department administration, saying he was “offended by the captain using offensive language,” Major said.
Because of the seriousness and “sensitivity” of the allegation, Major said, fire officials decided against doing an in-house investigation as would have been the normal course of action, and instead turned it over to the city-parish’s human resources department.
Major said he was prohibited from revealing the details of the investigation unless Hairford approved releasing the information, which he has not done.
He said the investigation took about three weeks.
“They interviewed everyone involved and turned their findings and recommendations over to us,” Major said.
They recommended that Hairford undergo diversity training, Major said.
“We kicked it around for a while as to what action to take,” Major said. “The administration decided that he not only had to submit to diversity training, but also to a 10-day suspension without pay.”
The administration also decided that all of the department’s employees should participate in the diversity training.
Major said the department offers the training periodically, but it’s possible that some of the more recent hires may not have had the training.
The department has 570 employees and 30 cadets in the academy. It is authorized to have 610 employees, but has 10 slots vacant, Major said.
“We don’t want this to ever occur again,” he said. “We also don’t want anyone to plead ignorance, so we’re going to teach them what’s acceptable and what’s not.”
The diversity training will begin next week and should last about three weeks in order to get everyone trained, Major said. Hairford’s suspension will begin Oct. 31.
“We hope this sends a message that these types of things will not be tolerated by the Fire Department,” Major said. “We take it seriously.”