An Arlington County firefighter says a Training Officer hazed and harassed him all throughout training and he says he’s not the first to experience this hostile environment.
According to WDVM, EMT recruit Brett Ahern says he was humiliated and constantly performing physical training because the Department ignored their Training Division practices.
Ahern says he joined the Department because its leadership stressed its progressiveness and that it didn’t allow hazing within the Training Academy or at the fire stations. Ahern says when he got hired, everything that had been talked about was a lie.
In one instance, Ahern says he had to wear a broken clock around his neck. He had to make sure it was constantly right so when the officers would ask him for the time he could avoid doing pushups. Ahern says this incident fell under the Alternative Learning Opportunity or ALO program.
He says ALO is a way for training officers to haze recruits and not call it hazing.
Ahern says there are others before him that have similar stories.
One female firefighter left because she heard officers talk about how women only got promoted because of their gender and not of their accomplishments. That any promotion a female EMT or firefighter could receive was soley because of politics.
Another firefighter and his training crew had to perform walking lunges around the center until they found his pressed pair of uniform pants. The firefighter, who was a former military member, had pressed them out of habit and stored them in his locker. Fire recruits performed these lunges for an unspecified time until the pants were found flying on a flag pole.
Ahern did file a complaint through his chain of command and an investigation has been completed. The officer who harassed Ahern was disciplined, but return to a better position outside of Training.
Ahern and many others are pushing for an overhaul of the Training Division and the city to hold Department leaders accountable for what they’re calling a toxic environment.
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