Orange County Haircutting Hazing

A year long investigation into a haircutting hazing incident in Orange County, California has concluded with the announcement that 13 firefighters have been disciplined.

The story began in April of 2012 when a group of firefighter recruits in uniform went into a fastfood restaurant, In-N-Out Burger, sporting an assortment of extreme haircuts. The strange styles included reverse mohawks, missing clumps of hair, and one recruit whose head was painted bright red.

A concerned citizen in the restaurant at the time notified the fire chief setting off a major investigation. The investigation proved to be very unpopular with the rank and file, and was even characterized by one member as “the biggest morale-busting waste of money I have ever seen.”

Orange County investigators consulted with the Orange County District Attorney’s Office when it was determined that some of the firefighters were forcibly held down while their hair was cut. The DA looked at the facts but declined to prosecute the offenders, and the case remained simply an internal disciplinary matter for the fire department.

The specifics of the discipline meted out to the thirteen members has not been disclosed, although we do know that none were terminated and all received some days off. According to news reports all 13 were charged with “unprofessional conduct”.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.

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