LEWIS CENTER, Ohio (WCMH) — One day after three Orange Township firefighters were fired, new information is emerging about what led to their terminations.
Captain John Hodges, Lieutenant David Martin, and firefighter/paramedic Bradley Belville were fired due to inappropriate behavior and conduct unbecoming, according to township spokesperson Amanda Sheterom.
According to documents released by Orange Township, the trustees terminated the men due to their alleged roles in the hazing, harassment and physical violence leveled toward their colleague.
NBC4 also obtained audio recordings of the fired firefighters’ administrative investigative interviews.
In them, Belville and Hodges admitted to hitting the firefighter in the groin.
“We were joking around in the kitchen and I only meant to get a reaction out of him, and I – I just missed,” Hodges said. “I-I didn’t miss, I actually hit him. I didn’t mean to hit him. I apologized emphatically and it seemed to be OK, but it still…”
Belville said hitting his colleague in the groin was part of “a game.”
“It was just supposed to be a fun thing back and forth, I don’t know,” he said, when asked about what happened.
Martin, on one recording, can be heard admitting that he called the firefighter an expletive, related to his family.
“More than once, less than ten,” he said, of the number of times he called the firefighter that name.
On Monday, the president of the firefighters’ union, Keith Myers, issued the following statement:
The Orange Township Professional Fire Fighters, IAFF Local 3816, has been made aware of recent workplace harassment allegations against some members of our department. We take these allegations seriously and do not tolerate harassment of any kind in the workplace. While these members are entitled to due process, we are committed to investigating this incident and ensuring a safe work environment at Orange Township Fire Department.
Orange Township supervisors released the following statement:
The Orange Township Board of Trustees takes seriously all allegations of inappropriate conduct or conduct unbecoming made against any employee. The Board will not tolerate such unacceptable behavior in the workplace. The Township’s goal is to perform a comprehensive and unbiased investigation of all allegations, while providing due process to all employees.
The Township is committed to providing a safe, harassment-free working environment. We look forward to continuing to deliver the highest level of service to the residents and visitors of the Township.
According to Myers, the fired firefighters have a process to appeal their terminations, per their collective bargaining agreement. Myers said he discussing those options with the men.
Warning: The documents linked below contain course language and descriptions of violence.