A Springfield firefighter has been fired because of a racially insensitive social media post, according to the chief.
Bradley Baugh, 39, had been a firefighter for only a few weeks before he was fired March 9 but has worked for the city for years, Springfield Fire/Rescue Division Chief Brian Miller said.
The accusation is serious, Miller said, and the department conducted an internal investigation and fired Baugh between the time Miller was notified of the post and Baugh’s next shift.
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“We need public support and public trust to do our job,” Miller said. “When we have somebody who interferes with those things and interrupts our mission and our ability to effectively conduct business we have to act.”
Baugh couldn’t be reached for comment by the Springfield News-Sun.
Miller declined to describe the social media post.
“I’m not going to repeat it,” Miller said. “I don’t talk like that.”
The division did the right thing in firing Baugh, NAACP Springfield President Denise Williams said.
“I agree with everything Miller did in regards to this situation,” she said.
She, too, declined to say what the post said.
“It won’t do any good, it’s awful,” Williams said. “I am not going to reveal it, it doesn’t bear repeating. The termination was definitely warranted.”
Racism won’t be tolerated in Springfield, Williams said.
“This is not what the city is about,” she said. “We are putting an end to it and I commend the chief. The fact that he won’t tolerate this type of stuff, he should be commended. This city is not having it.”
The department works hard to hire the best employees, Miller said. Each candidate goes through a background check and a polygraph test, he said.
The department has a social media policy that each member goes through to learn what’s appropriate to post and what isn’t, Miller said. It’s unclear whether Baugh went through the training because he was a new employee.
The Springfield News-Sun has requested Baugh’s personnel record but hasn’t received it yet.
This is the first time Miller, who took over as chief at the beginning of this year, had to fire someone, he said.
“It was a racially insensitive remark and will not be tolerated,” he said.
Baugh made about $45,000 a year.
The firefighters union doesn’t support racism or anything racially insensitive, International Association of Firefighters Springfield Professional Firefighters President Andy Rigsbee said.
“The Springfield professional firefighters do not condone any activity of this nature,” Rigsbee said.
The union will review the termination, as they do with most, he said, but only to make sure the rules in the contract between the city and union were followed.
“We represent the contract,” Rigsbee said.
Springfield firefighters work hard to protect everyone in Springfield, Rigsbee said, regardless of race or creed.
The Springfield News-Sun digs into important public safety stories, including recent coverage of efforts to widen I-70 and crime rates in Springfield and Clark County last year.