Sexual Harassment Allegations Lead to Departures in Florida FD

Allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct in a Florida fire department have resulted in four firefighters leaving the department, including the fire chief. According to Lake Butler City Manager David Mecusker, three female firefighters with the Lake Butler Volunteer Fire Department complained about being sexually harassed.

The reported conduct that triggered the complaint included sexual comments and threats to take photos of the women while they were changing. Mecusker told News4 JAX: “Basically the fire chief resigned and then, the two firemen that were involved, they were told that we no longer needed their services.”

According to newly appointed interim Fire Chief Laurie Ash, the allegations were untrue, and Fire Chief Mike Banks opted to retire rather than deal with the allegations.

One of the female firefighters who complained about the harassing behavior has also been terminated after she was caught stealing a laptop computer. Mecusker said he plans to put the entire department through sensitivity training.

Here is more on the story including a news video that I could not embed.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 45 years of fire service experience and 35 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, 4th ed. 2022) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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