Robert Pattison was fired from his firefighting job after bringing a watermelon to a new station to introduce himself to his new co-workers in Detroit.
Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty told WJBK: “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.”
Some of African-American firefighters were offended; the station is 90 percent black.
Pattison told WJBK that the watermelon was not meant as a joke and he did not intend to offend the other firefighters.
Fire Commissioner Eric Jones released statement:
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.