A firefighter in Detroit was poised to begin work at Engine 55 and even completed the training regiment when fellow firefighters suggested bringing a gift too introduce himself to his future coworkers. Second Battallion Chief Shawn McCarty says it is a tradition of firefighters, "It's not mandatory, it's voluntary. You come in bearing gifts. The usual gift is doughnuts but you are allowed to bring whatever you want to bring in."
41-year-old Robert Pattison went to induce himself to his fellow firefighters at Joy and Southfield in Detroit and came bearing a large watermelon wrapped with a pink bow. However, the firefighters at Engine 55 are 90% black and they didn't take to kindly to the gesture. "When you get your first detail at a firehouse you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into. So you would have to say it was probably a bad call," Patrick Trout said.
When asked if it was racially insensitive to bring a watermelon to a fire house McCarty responded, "To some people." Fire Commissioner Eric Jones officially gave Pattison the boot saying,
"There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department. On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter (probationary employee) engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department. After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."
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