Fla. fire chiefs suspended over inappropriate language

An investigation found they used racial and homophobic slurs; it also uncovered bullying

By FireRescue1 Staff

FORT WALTON BEACH, Fla. — Two fire chiefs were suspended Wednesday night without pay after using foul language while on the job.

NWF Daily News reported that Ocean City Wright Fire Control District voted 4-1 to suspend Fire Chief Billy Lord for 45 days and Assistant Fire Chief Scott Funchess for 30 days. An investigation found both repeatedly used inappropriate language in the workplace, including racial and homophobic slurs.

Claims that Lord and Funchess were bullying or belittling firefighters were also uncovered during the investigation, according to the report.

Fire District Commission Chairman Robert Jankowski said he felt "pretty guilty" after the investigation findings.

"I’ve been here 11, going on 12 years," he said. "For me to not recognize this is disturbing … I feel like a failed leader."

Both chiefs will have to go through managerial seminars that will include diversity and cultural training. They will also have to sign a last-change agreement. If they violate the agreement, it will result in immediate termination.

The board also voted to create a human relations department independent from the fire district.

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