Firefighter alleges physical hazing

From staff reports

A two-week internal investigation continues in the Henry County Fire Department for alleged harassment suffered by one of its new firefighters.

The firefighter filed a complaint with the county's human resources department sometime in late August or early September, said Mike Turner, the county's public safety director.

He said the allegations centered on the use of wooden paddles in so-called ritual hazing toward the complaining firefighter.

The county continues to question firefighters to determine whether the allegations of harassment are accurate and whether supervisors within the fire department were aware of the alleged harassment.

Although the alleged harassment is not criminal in nature, it is against county policy, Turner explained.

“Whether it's physical, emotional or psychological, no hazing of any type is permitted,” he said. “The end result can be discipline up to and including termination.”

Turner said he expects the investigation to last just past Thanksgiving, as the county works around schedules for its more than 250 firefighters. So far, no administrative action has been taken.