Chaos close to home: Local fire station guilty of hazing

Hazing is a very common problem among college campuses, but people generally only hear that word associated with the college experience. So, when a story comes out about hazing in the workplace, people turn their heads. And when that story involves someone who lots of people look up to, it can worry some.

This was the case when three Orange Township firefighters were fired for hazing a part time firefighter. Four others were disciplined and suspended for taking part in the actions of hazing the part time firefighter.

Senior Griffin Yothers said it was disturbing to see something like this happen in our community so close to where we live, and it’s just unfortunate that it ever happened.

An investigation was prompted in September 2019 of the seven firefighters who mistreated the part time fireman who wanted to become full time. The victim told multiple reporters of The Columbus Dispatch that he wasn’t the only won being harassed.

“He was called names and obscenities and forced to wear a garbage can strapped over his head. He, also, was often hit in the groin, had to flinch and cover himself when colleagues approached,” reporter Dean Narciso from The Columbus Dispatch said when describing the harassment that was done.

The three men that were fired were: Captain John Hodges, Lieutenant Dave Martin and firefighter Bradley Belville during a recent Orange Township Meeting. The other four received punishments as well but were not fired.

Fire Chief Officer Matt Noble said, “The Orange Township Board of Trustees takes seriously all allegations of inappropriate conduct or conduct unbecoming made against any employee. The Board will not tolerate such unacceptable behavior in the workplace. The Township’s goal is to perform a comprehensive and unbiased investigation of all allegations, while providing due process to all employees.”

Stories about hazing in fire stations isn’t uncommon. Hazing “the new guy” at a job has been around for decades but always seems to be taken too far.

“College is the most prominent place for a hazing incident to occur, but what’s next? Hazing in the workplace. It is an epidemic in our country and unfortunately police officers and firefighters make up a large percentage of hazing incidents,” according to the New York Post.

Most people have heard of a hazing story before, but for an incident like this have happened right down the street can feel eerie to some.This could possibly create a bad reputation for the fire station and even Orange Township itself.

“The Township is committed to providing a safe, harassment-free working environment. We look forward to continuing to deliver the highest level of service to the residents and visitors of the Township,” Noble said.

This new instance is one of several of a new brand of hazing. Therefore these new instances have provoked Gov. Mike DeWine to try and change the law of hazing penalties in Ohio which he has been trying to do for months.

“Gov. Mike DeWine wants to eradicate hazing before another person dies or endures beating and humiliation that can scar them for life. New laws would change hazing penalties from a minor misdemeanor to a fourth degree felony at least,” according to The Columbus Dispatch.

It is a priority for Gov. DeWine to equip stricker, harsher punishments for hazing so we can hopefully see a decrease in harassment incidents. Luckily no firefighter got seriously injured or died, but doesn’t mean the next time will be the same.


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