Firefighter loses job after bringing watermelon to station

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A rookie firefighter in Detroit was reportedly fired for “offensive and racially insensitive” behavior after bringing a watermelon to his new firehouse. (Pixabay) A rookie firefighter in Detroit was reportedly fired for “offensive and racially insensitive” behavior after bringing a watermelon to his new firehouse. (Pixabay)

(Meredith) – A rookie firefighter in Detroit was fired for “offensive and racially insensitive” behavior after bringing a watermelon to his new firehouse, WJBK-TV reports.

Earlier this month, 41-year-old Robert Pattison brought a watermelon topped with a pink bow as a gift for the station, which is mostly made up of black members. Some firefighters said they were instantly offended by this due to a prevalent stereotype linking African-Americans with watermelons.

It's tradition at Engine 55 for new firefighters to bring a gift to introduce themselves. 

Pattison said he didn't intend for the watermelon to be offensive, but the fire commissioner disagreed in a statement to WJBK-TV.

"There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department,” Fire Commissioner Eric Jones said.

Jones said the probationary firefighter engaged in “unsatisfactory work behavior” deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.

The commissioner said the decision to fire Pattison came after a thorough investigation.

Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty, however, told WJBK-TV in an interview that he doesn’t believe the firefighter should have lost his job over the watermelon.

Copyright 2017 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved.

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