A Wichita firefighter loses his job. Several others are being disciplined after a firehouse stunt more than two months ago. Friday, Chief Ron Blackwell also said five others were disciplined and several others were ordered to take counseling classes.
The fire was set by Jarrod Womack inside the bathroom at fire station #1 in downtown Wichita on January 12th.
"Morale and other issues are important to me, but in this case where it was alleged that there was a fire in one of our buildings, we investigated, we found some cause and we took an action."
That action included the termination of firefighter Jarrod Womack, whom we caught up with as he filed a grievance with the city at the local firefighters union.
"I believe I was wrongfully terminated," he said. "It was simply a practical joke, which is prevalent within the fire department. Other high-ranking fire officials have done the same thing."
We asked Chief Blackwell about that allegation. This was his response.
"There was a fire in one of our buildings. We take those things very seriously. We took this seriously. After an investigation, we took an action."
As for groups of firefighters competing with each other in these types of activities, Blackwell said competitiveness within the department is healthy.
"Firefighters, for the most part, are very competitive people," he said, "and that competition has served this community well for many years in terms that it has driven many of our people to get better and to maintain a professional standard."
Blackwell said that he regrets the incident happened, but that he hopes it doesn't erode the public's confidence in Wichita's fire department.