Thread: Harassing fellow fire fighters
01-12-2000, 04:07 PM #1firefly1361Firehouse.com Guest
Harassing fellow fire fighters
I know this is always a drawn out subject but I'm looking for others opinions on this subject. Recently a fire fighter from another station in my County started harassing a female fire fighter at my station for no reason. The people she talked said that it's a matter for the police and not the Fire Department to handle. I feel that the guy should be punished for this cruel treatment. This girl has a boyfriend who is a fire fighter at the same station she's at.I'd appreciate any comments ya'll would have on this.
[This message has been edited by firefly1361 (edited January 12, 2000).]
01-12-2000, 10:28 PM #2JAY FROM OHIOFirehouse.com Guest
Can you define "harass"? There is a certain amount of what I define as harrassment that goes on no matter the age or sex in the fire service. I think it comes with the territory. However, my idea of harrassment includes "reminding" my fellow firefighters of the stupid habits they have r silly incidents that have occurred. Could you please clarfiy without jepordizing personal information on this lady what's going on?
01-12-2000, 10:46 PM #3firefly1361Firehouse.com Guest
This collegue of mine received a couple of phone calls from the individual. He want her to let him come over so they could "talk". The harasser claimed that they were friends but she never really talked to the guy except if she ran into him on the fire ground or out in public some where. He wanted her to have sex with him. Anyway thats as far as I can go w/o gettting into more detail.As for defining Harassment this went far beyond joking about stupid mistakes made and personal blunders. This was blatant sexual harassment.Thanks for the input. Stay Safe
[This message has been edited by firefly1361 (edited January 12, 2000).]
01-12-2000, 10:48 PM #4SteamerFirehouse.com Guest
There were recently a case where an employer was held responsible for the lack of action by the employer for the harrassment of one their employees by a contractor's employee who was working on their building.
I would say that whoever said that it's just a matter for the Police should probably get their financial statements in order 'cause this lady's attorney is going to be asking about it during the discovery phase of the department's trial (this person will most certainly be named as a codefendent). If a complaint is made, and the department doesn't act upon it and take appropriate action, those responsible are subject to individual charges. Since it has been to somebody that I assume is an administrator of your organization, they should at least cause an investigation to be conducted.
Also a funny thing about Civil Rights suits, Defendents found guilty can be individually responsible for any monetary finding against them -- out of their pocket, not the department's. Forget about indemnification (the city/county/township paying the fine; I don't think they are permitted to pay it.
I know of a local deaprtment where similar events occurred, and the above was what their attorney told them.
With no intent to reflect on this person's complaint, it doesn't matter if a complaint has merit or not; it must be investigated (and not white washed). They should at least notify the department's attorney, and get instruction ASAP. There's way too much at stake to just pooh-pooh it off, and pass the buck. Even if the courts never get involved, the department could lose something at least as valuable as the potential monetary findings; good employees.
Chillicothe (Ohio) Fire Department
[This message has been edited by Steamer (edited January 12, 2000).]
01-12-2000, 11:03 PM #5firefly1361Firehouse.com Guest
I think that the woman involved is going to the chief of other station if the problem continues
01-13-2000, 12:07 PM #6JAY FROM OHIOFirehouse.com Guest
If I've learned anything in life it's document, document, document. She needs to keep a log of what has been said/happened, any witnesses and when it occurred. If she gets no where with the chief she needs to follow her chain of command to the next person until she gets a response. Jay
01-14-2000, 09:11 AM #7Lt.ToddFirehouse.com Guest
I think it's great that your asking are opinons , but your department should already have all the rules , sop's, and regulations in place to deal with these jerks.The fire service is filled with all walks of life and if members of the department are to narrow minded to deal with it they should find a new line of work.In Atlanta we have already had several members , including officers severly disiplined due to harassment charges.
If your department does'nt have these policies in place it's just a matter of time untill the cheif and all involved are sued.
Good luck , and I hope all turns out well.
01-14-2000, 12:29 PM #8Bob SnyderFirehouse.com Guest
This really isn't a fire service issue, per se, it goes to the more general issue of harrassment. In most cases, there probably isn't anything wrong with someone making a pass or passes (even bad ones) at someone that they see periodically on the fireground, as long as there isn't a supervisor-employee relationship or a department policy in place, or something like that (it sounds here like you're talking about different agencies (volunteer?), so no problem there).
However, it's a huge problem if the person being approached says "no" and/or "leave me alone" (or anything to that effect) and the contact continues. Then, we're talking about harrassment or, if it's extreme, stalking. These things are police matters. If the victim chooses to try to handle it through the chain of command, that's her perogative, but that can be very dangerous. In this case, where you seem to be talking about multiple agencies, I find it unlikely that the chain of command is going to resolve the problem effectively. If this is persistent harrassment/stalking (I don't know the details, so I can't say), I'd be headed for either court restraint or criminal charges (or both) pretty fast in her position. The fire service isn't immune to freaks and wierdos...there's all sorts of them out there, and many of them are dangerous.
[This message has been edited by Bob Snyder (edited January 14, 2000).]
01-14-2000, 03:01 PM #9Lieutenant GonzoFirehouse.com Guest
The City I work for has a policy that includes racial, religious, gender and sexual harrassment. Every City employee and elected official has to go over the policy every year and sign a form that states that the individual understands what the harrassment policy covers. There are some people who won't sign the form, their refusal to sign is noted, but as far as I am concerned, if you read the policy, you know about it and ignorance is no excuse. Documenting the times, places and witnesses is important.
Take care and be safe...Lt. Gonzo
01-14-2000, 07:40 PM #10BigBossFirehouse.com Guest
I am not an attorney, but due to my position with my real job (exec with a bank) and my position as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Village that operates the FD, it is my understanding that she should report this harrassment to her supervisor. It makes no differance if the harrasser is employed by the same dept or not or in my case in my "real" job - a fellow employee or customer - harrassment is harrassment, when reported to the supervisor he or she MUST take action which may or may not include contacting the police.
01-14-2000, 10:56 PM #11Brandy620Firehouse.com Guest
I like what the other's are saying, but if it's only happening on fire grounds and fire related area. The chain of command has to kick in and settle this nonsence. She has as much right to be there as anyone else "pulling her weight".
If this problem is happening else where then it's a criminal thing.
When I started on the dept. there were a couple of girl before me. I didn't know them, but let's just say it made it very hard for me. They figured I was the same. A couple of the veteran's quit, because I joined and I threatened acouple other's that I would lay charges on them, if they continued to bug me. I was lucky and it worked. I went up the chain of command, dept chief- then the chief and asked them if they had any problems with my behavior as a firefighter. If they thought I was learning at the right level of training. They couldn't find any fault with me.
I think rookies have to work harder anyway's just to "get caught up" with everyone else.
Tell her to try that( sorry it worked for me) and if it doesn't help, go higher. Fire marshal's office.
Let me know how it goes.
01-15-2000, 06:50 PM #12DianeFirehouse.com Guest
On a similar note. My dept. had a SH presentation last year -- believe me when I say some people DID NOT benefit from it, nor did everyone attend even though it was "mandatory". After nine years of being for the most part, the ONLY female in the dept., I've become accustomned to "fighting" back -- which results in me having "an attitude problem". The minute I "complain" I'm: told to stop complaining, told that I am blowing things out of proportion, told to get used to it, told that I am "PMS-ing", etc.......It's to the point that I only go down to the firehouse when I have to. And they have the nerve to ask why I don't show up! Hey, they know they have an easy target!
01-16-2000, 06:54 PM #13Brian JohnsonFirehouse.com Guest
Is the Harraser a superior? Does this person have the ability to affect your friends career? Has he continually asked her after being told no?
While not very tactful, simply asking a co-worker for sex is not a crime if the person stops asking after being told no.
I would hate for this persons carreer to be ruined simply because he was forward with a lady he wanted to pursue a relationship with.
On the other hand if he is a superior or keeps asking her after being told no, he needs to be flamed. She does not need to be uncomfotable everytime she goes to work.
My opinion anyway.
01-16-2000, 08:11 PM #14LieutE2Firehouse.com Guest
Harassment is harassment,be it in a career or volunteer org. The problem in a vol. org. is the lack of viable punitive options. IE: suspension w/o pay,etc. The way to go, in my mind, is documentation. If the behavior continues, seek help from the local law enforcment agency. I know that the Carroll Co. States Atty. Office handles these cases regularly. Good luck
01-16-2000, 09:06 PM #15JAY FROM OHIOFirehouse.com Guest
I can't speak for any one else but I am very thankful for the guys I work with. I was a volunteer before I got hired on that department. Like Brandy, there was some negative feelings towards females because we had a couple women who used the issue of sex as a crutch and took EVERY word literally and in most cases the wrong way. As for the issue of "pulling your weight" I've seen the new guys get the same treatment. Let's face it we're not pumping gas or bagging groceries somewhere. There is a level of trust that has to be established that is unlike most other work environments. I can understand sexual harassment becoming an issue if someone can't take no for an answer, but I personally step up to the plate when someone questions my skills or ability based on my gender. It sickens me when women whine when someone has doubts about them, automatically it seems the only reason that could happen is because of their gender. As long as we continue to magnify the lines, we are going to have to prove ourselves. Being harressed sexually and not because of our gender should be addressed, whether it's a man or woman being harassed. I hope I haven't angered too many of my fellow female firefighters, but I for one am tired of mumbling about gender harrassment. Don't complain but your money where your mouth is and show them you can do the job too.
01-16-2000, 10:19 PM #16pvfr fyrfyterFirehouse.com Guest
if the perpetrator(and this sounds like a crime to this prison guard/vol. ff) doesnt respond to requests in private to knock it off then confront the person infront of the rest of the shift and let the chips fall where they may. if he wont take no for an answer in private then hes probably been bragging to the "guys" that your friend "wants him" and they are watching to see how the situation ends up. use all available alternatives before using this method, but if all else fails then the discomfort that your friend shares should be shared with her coworkers that dont really want to get involved.
01-16-2000, 11:38 PM #17firefly1361Firehouse.com Guest
Thanks to all who gave their opinions to this. The problem has been handled appropriately. Unfortuneatly I cannot comment on the actions taken. However the person responsible has been corrected and has not bothered my friend since. So it seems all is well. Again thank you to all for lending their opinions. If you want to talk further E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ICQ me @ 9805135.
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