SEATTLE — The Seattle Fire Department has launched an internal investigation after sources told KIRO 7 that a black lieutenant firefighter found a noose while he was on shift at his station on Monday.
According to the source, the noose was found at a knot tying station where knots are practiced inside the station. The source said what was found isn’t a knot the firefighters do and could not have been mistaken for another knot.
“It’s come to my attention that rumors are circulating about an issue at one of our fire stations that is currently under investigation. As soon as we were notified, our EEO investigator/advisor responded immediately due to the sensitive nature of the concern that was raised,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, in an email sent to the entire department last week. “Like any department investigation, the details kept confidential in order to maintain the integrity of the investigative process. Investigations take time as we need to make sure the process is fair and thorough. Rest assured the Department is taking this matter seriously and intends to do a full and fair investigation.”
In the internal email, Seattle Fire Chief Scoggins acknowledged “emotions are high and fatigue is a real factor” because of the COVID-19 pandemic and recent protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
“Our city and our entire nation is living through a critical new reality. As firefighters, we put everything on the line to put out fires and respond to medical emergencies,” said Chief Scoggins, in the internal email. “I urge you to prevent fires and discord from breaking out among our own ranks.”
Seattle Fire Department spokesperson Kristin Tinsley released this statement to KIRO 7 Saturday:
“Discrimination and racial harassment are antithetical to SFD’s values and will not be tolerated. The department takes any complaints of discrimination and harassment very seriously and will use all appropriate measures to address any violations of policy. SFD immediately engaged the department’s Equal Employment Opportunity office to conduct an internal investigation. Like any department investigation, the details are kept confidential to maintain the integrity of the investigative process. This is the extent of the information that can be released at this time.”
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