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Crazy haircuts kick off hazing investigation, opening rift within department

Fire department administrators say the hazing will end, firefighters accuse the administration of overreacting

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — When Orange County Fire Authority recruits showed up in uniform at a fast-food joint sporting bizarre hairdos — reverse mohawks and missing clumps of hair — a perturbed restaurant customer phoned the fire chief.

That was in April 2012. Since then the department has launched a full-on investigation into the hazing practices, according to the Orange County Register. Part of that investigation included a confidential survey of 259 union members.

Comments from the survey published by the register were largely critical of the administration. Regarding the hazing, one respondent called it a witch hunt. Another said a stern warning would have been more appropriate than full-blown investigation that was "the biggest morale-busting waste of money I have ever seen."

The six probationary firefighters and seven others were disciplined for unprofessional conduct stemming from the fast-food restaurant incident.

The paper reports that at least two of the probationary firefighters were held down as their heads were shaved. No charges were filed.

As a result, the department will no longer tolerate hazing.

"We are taking appropriate measures to make sure nothing like this ever happens again at the OCFA," Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion told the paper.


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