Detroit Terminates Firefighter Who Brought Watermelon to Station

At first I thought this had to be a fake story, but it appears to be true. A probationary firefighter in Detroit was let go because he brought a watermelon with a pink ribbon on it to his new firehouse as a welcome gift.

The gesture offended those at the firehouse, and Robert Pattison was fired last week. The incident involved Engine 55. According to a statement released by Fire Commissioner Eric Jones, Pattison “engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.”

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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