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Firefighter sacked over chain letter

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A firefighter has been sacked after an internal investigation for allegedly sending illegal chain letters using the service’s trademark stationery. Fire Service Northland region commander Trevor Andrews said disciplinary proceedings had been launched after a three-week internal investigation found the letters had been distributed by a career firefighter who had been working in Whangarei Fire Station.

“A staff member has been dismissed,” Mr Andrews said.

“It’s an indication of how seriously we take the alleged breach and its impact on the public confidence and trust in the New Zealand Fire Service.

“It (public confidence) is something you cannot put a value on.

“This type of alleged behaviour strikes at the very heart of that trust and confidence.”

A final meeting to decide whether the officer should be dismissed was held late yesterday, taking into consideration submissions and any mitigating circumstances.

Mr Andrews would not comment on how the letter was tracked back to the fire officer other than to say the Fire Service had its “own processes and procedures” for investigations.

The letter, which has been circulating for several months, surfaced in Christchurch in July.

Many calls were made to the Fire Service from people who had received the Kawakawa post-marked “David Rhodes” chain letters in Fire Service envelopes.

The letter purports to have been penned by David Rhodes, of Perth, or sometimes Norfolk, who claims to have made more than $1 million from a $194 investment.

The letter suggests the recipient can expect a return of more than $70,000 within weeks of following six steps, including sending $10 to one person and 200 copies of the letter to people randomly selected from the telephone book.

Circulating chain letters is an illegal activity.

Whangarei police Detective Sergeant Dene Begbie said it was too early to say what action, if any, would be taken in relation to the matter.

Profession Fire Fighters Union National secretary Derek Best said the union was not involved in the case.

“It’s being dealt with by the individual and the Fire Service,” he said.

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