The 16-second video shows an Augusta firefighter duct-taping another's mouth, neck and head while he appears to struggle in vain.
"I don't tolerate any kind of hazing or anything like it, and I'm (going to) get to the bottom of this," Chief Willis said Tuesday.
The chief said two firefighters involved, Brandon Trapp and his supervisor, Lt. Jeff Daniels, will be in his office this morning to explain what's on the clip and how it got on the video-sharing Web site. Mr. Trapp, 22, is the apparent victim in the entry, titled "P-Trap getting taped up."
The explainer text reads, "firefighter with smart mouth gets handled."
Both men work at Station 3 on Reynolds Street and come back on shift today.
Contacted by phone Tuesday, Mr. Trapp said the incident was no more than in-station horseplay, just a "laughing, joking around-type thing" to pass the time. He said it was Lt. Daniels doing the duct-taping, and he later helped him pull it off. He said he's not even upset that someone posted the clip on the Internet.
"It's all good," the three-year firefighter said. "I know they didn't use my real name or anything like that."
In the video, a young man in a blue shirt with the Augusta Fire Department emblem on the left sleeve is seated at a table, and a similarly dressed man standing over him holds his head and makes six passes with a roll of duct tape, covering his mouth and tightly covering his neck, ears and forehead. In the background, hysterical laughter can be heard.
Mr. Trapp said he's not sure who was laughing or who was filming.
It's not clear in the video whether Mr. Trapp is subdued -- he says he wasn't -- but he squirms and grunts, prompting the man in the background to laugh harder. Seated to his left is another figure, back to the camera, with "Fire Rescue" on the back of a dark shirt.
The only face clearly visible is Mr. Trapp's. He said he wasn't injured, and as for the pain of pulling off the tape, he's suffered injuries in fires that hurt worse.
The men at the station are like brothers, he said. Sometimes, the high jinks can go to extremes, but this wasn't one of them. He described an atmosphere of Police Academy -style pranks and retributions, all in good fun.
The clip was added March 24 by a user with the screenname jdfirre, a 44-year-old firefighter, according to the profile page. Augusta human resources office records say Lt. Daniels, a 17-year veteran of the department, is 44.
The county's employee handbook forbids violence, threats of violence and harassment, and says offenders can be prosecuted. The fire department's administrative manual says workers "shall commit no act tending to bring reproach or discredit upon the Fire Department or its members."
Chief Willis said these are firing offenses.
"They think they're being funny, I think," he said, "and there's nothing funny about it."
Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.