Chief angered by video horseplay

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Augusta Fire Chief Howard Willis said Tuesday he's none too happy about a film clip posted on YouTube.

This still was taken from a 16-second video showing an Augusta firefighter duct-taping another's mouth, neck and head. The video has since been removed by the user who posted it, according to a note on the YouTube site.  Special
Special
This still was taken from a 16-second video showing an Augusta firefighter duct-taping another's mouth, neck and head. The video has since been removed by the user who posted it, according to a note on the YouTube site.

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 johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

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Opinionated
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Opinionated 04/09/08 - 08:07 am
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This was nothing more than a

This was nothing more than a joke, just b/c you're aging doesn't mean your sense of humor does too. Lighten up.

justus4
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justus4 04/09/08 - 08:15 am
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Joke on your own time, not on
Unpublished

Joke on your own time, not on the government's! This is the result of poor leadership and requires "setting an example." Again, poor managers being overpaid at the taxpayer's expense. The fire department is a joke.

Brad Owens
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Brad Owens 04/09/08 - 08:23 am
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Looks like fun to me.

Looks like fun to me. Practical jokes are good tension breakers and keeps people in a good mood. To all you folks complaining I say "Bugger off!"

Brad Owens
4727
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Brad Owens 04/09/08 - 08:26 am
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That's funny justus4, I

That's funny justus4, I thought you were one of the guys saying how pro the dept was thanks to Ronnie Few. I bet if he was still in charge that you would be singing a diff tune huh?

mgray
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mgray 04/09/08 - 08:26 am
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Just my opinion, but these

Just my opinion, but these guys should not be fired. If there must be some accountability for the action, then write them up, make them review the handbook, whatever; but, the expense of training new replacements for the jobs these seasoned veterans would be vacating if fired - well, that would be a waste of taxpayers' monies. I hope all of you calling for the axe to fall have never done one single misdeed at your job. Egads!

who knows
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who knows 04/09/08 - 08:30 am
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everyone talking about the

everyone talking about the fire department joking around and jutus4 speaks of the governments well if you look at richmond countys goverment it is nothing be a huge JOKE. In the firemens defense they do have a lot of down time but as a paramedic when i was on the street i worked closely with engine company 3 and all the others downtown and when i needed back up i got a firetruck a lot quicker than the sheriffs department. They were always there when i needed them evenif they had to come with the duct tape still on. Lighten up people.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/09/08 - 08:32 am
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Ridiculous. If this is the

Ridiculous. If this is the worst they have ever done, then I say, give them a raise. I guess the chief needed some air time.

ruhappy
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ruhappy 04/09/08 - 08:32 am
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I see nothing funny about

I see nothing funny about duct taping a employee. I've been a supervisor over a large group of men for over 30 years and there is no place for that type of horse-play at any job. I also have a 22 y/o son that I know would stand up to a supervisor or anyone else that would try to put duct tape around his mouth.

christian134
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christian134 04/09/08 - 08:36 am
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My son, Justus4, doesn't

My son, Justus4, doesn't believe the fire department is a joke as he is a fireman....You go fight a fire, put your little behind on the line...oh right you are the first in line to yell for one of these folks if something goes wrong in your life....The only thing these guys did was enjoy playing around...Not something I would like to see happen again but guys do stuff when they are young. With four boys of my own I know this for a fact.....

ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts
9052
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ColdBeerBoiledPeanuts 04/09/08 - 08:39 am
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To all of you complaining,

To all of you complaining, have you never told a joke or played a joke or read or forwarded a personal e mail while you were at work? How many of you are at work right now while you are damning these men for a prank? If your gonna throw stones you'd better have safety glass in your own windows and be perfect. I know these people spend hours a day on equipment maintenance, hours in training each day, they live together for 24 hours at a time. They become so close that one would not hesitate to run into danger to save their coworkers. Would you do that? Would you run into a burning house to save the property of someone you don't know, or just stand back and dial 911? 1 out of 100 of you might! Until you can walk in their shoes and wear their boots, you are not qualified to make or pass any judgement on these MEN!

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/09/08 - 08:40 am
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If the fire department is a

If the fire department is a joke, I guess some of you will be calling the Orkin man, should your house catch on fire.

iluvdundee
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iluvdundee 04/09/08 - 08:46 am
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"It's nice to know you can

"It's nice to know you can get paid for killing time." When it comes to the fire depts, yes they have more down time than us on the ems side because there are more of them. But once the station/trucks are clean, training is done, things can get boring. i work on an ambulance out of a fire station and my guys play pranks on each other as well as my partner and i. i agree posting the prank with an Augusta logo was wrong, but its harmless fun. It doesnt take that long to take off duct tape, plus we all carry trauma shears, so he maybe missing a few hairs. They/we are still going to get to the calls quickly, no matter what. and getting paid killing time? ill remember that when i get called out at 4am for someone who stubbed their toe. or 2am for a structure fire. or middle of the night for cpr in progress, or any other serious call that might be going on. so please be careful when you say "It's nice to know you can get paid for killing time." if you are that against the fire dept, save yourself the time and save your cell battery by not calling 911. oh, and for car accidents, more times than not, the fire dept is first on scene, and they have the extrication equipment. :D they do save lives, so give us all a break.

im a know body
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im a know body 04/09/08 - 09:02 am
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It's 3am and you're sleep,

It's 3am and you're sleep, smoke detector alarms. You wake up... you call 911. Your child is sick.... you call 911.You're having chest pains...you call 911. Before a ambulance or a cop can reach your house a big red fire truck is there. GET THE PICTURE!!!! Wake up AUGUSTA.

sandbox
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sandbox 04/09/08 - 09:06 am
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Not a problem, Tapee 1 day

Not a problem, Tapee 1 day without pay, Taper 2 days without pay, person that provided the film and the problem. Find a new job. ALL cops do find ways of having fun also. Even in Richmond County.

sandbox
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sandbox 04/09/08 - 09:06 am
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Not a problem, Tapee 1 day

Not a problem, Tapee 1 day without pay, Taper 2 days without pay, person that provided the film and the problem. Find a new job. ALL cops do find ways of having fun also. Even in Richmond County.

bone
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bone 04/09/08 - 09:11 am
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justus is now on the right

justus is now on the right track: anyone getting a gov't check caught "sitting around" should forfeit their money. let's start with the welfare rolls and work our way through the administration departments at gov't offices before we get to police & fire departments, though. as it stands, i hope the firemen receive some censure over this incident but not anything close to firing / demotion: certainly they were just horsing around, but the public nature of this incident requires a consequence.

FIRE101
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FIRE101 04/09/08 - 09:26 am
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This is a shock,how do you

This is a shock,how do you ever let a LT, on the department do this. When i was a firemen, privates did the hazing to the new guys coming on,not officers. Bust him down to a private,or fire him now,or we will go after the Chief. it takes at least 20 seconds to leave the station when you get a call,it will take at least 2 mins to get that crap off the guy before he is ready get his gear on. If the chief dont do his job,fire him. Someones life could have been lost,and as many fires we have been having,we dont need this crap.

CantTrustaDumbocrat
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CantTrustaDumbocrat 04/09/08 - 09:32 am
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No doubt these guys need some

No doubt these guys need some "stress reliever" fun every now and then. Anyone who has been around a fire house knows that these guys are like brothers and things like this happens with brothers. In a 24 on 48 off setting you have to be close to the guy bunking next to you. I see NOTHING wrong with a little stress relieving fun and I am sure this did not hurt their ability to do their job in a minutes notice. The problem I have with this is that it made it on to YouTube. These guys were in uniform and this is an embarrassment to the dept to be all over the net. Remember RCSO lost two deputies because they were on myspace showing a county car and county isssued service weapon. Who ever put it on YouTube, if it is Jeff or not, is the one who should be in trouble. Check county policy about embarrassing the dept and you will find what to do to the poster.

FIRE101
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FIRE101 04/09/08 - 09:39 am
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This is a shock,how do you

This is a shock,how do you ever let a LT, on the department do this. When i was a firemen, privates did the hazing to the new guys coming on,not officers. Bust him down to a private,or fire him now,or we will go after the chief. It takes at least 20 seconds to leave the station when you get a call,it will take at least 2 mins to get that crap off the guy before he is ready get his gear on. If the chief dont do his job,fire him. Someones life could have been lost,and as many fires we have been having,we dont need this crap.

dpm626
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dpm626 04/09/08 - 10:00 am
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The firefighters having a

The firefighters having a little internal fun is fine. Even recording it is not that big of a deal. But why put it on You-Tube??

That is just asking for trouble.

GnipGnop
12466
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GnipGnop 04/09/08 - 10:02 am
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Not all firefighters leave on

Not all firefighters leave on calls. Some stay behind to answer other calls. So him being taped is not a big deal. If they have fought one fire in their career I think they have the right for a little hazing and playing. I would agree with an earlier poster, if this hadn't been made public the chief wouldn't have said a word. Lighten up snapper heads.

WHATDIDIDO
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WHATDIDIDO 04/09/08 - 10:05 am
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Fire 101, sounds like you

Fire 101, sounds like you have some hatred towards these firemen. Yes, I know you say you used to be one. I used to be 190ls, but I am 290 now, and that's erring on the lite size. LOL Lighten up a little on these guy. If they take two minutes to cut duct tape, I believe that is more of a concern for me.

Yak1
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Yak1 04/09/08 - 10:07 am
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Fire, when you were a

Fire, when you were a Fireman? LOL...they had fire back then?

Chief Willis is LIGHT YEARS BETTER than almost any other department head in the City. He has to act shocked, I say let him handle it IN HOUSE. And for Justus, want to know about your hero RONNIEFEW...go to Washington DC with an Augusta T Shirt on and talk his praise/....LOL..

toppergem
125
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toppergem 04/09/08 - 10:11 am
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Folks...these men were at

Folks...these men were at WORK...no matter how boring the job is to sit around waiting for a call does not give you the right or reason to tape yourself up...you are still working. I can't duct tape the teachers that work with me if we have a slow period, like now during the Masters...so why give these dummies a break. Is it because they are white and not black and on meth and not crack??? What's going on guys, why the double standards?? Chief you are right, you need to get to the bottom of this and make examples out of the both of them, especially the LT.

CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 04/09/08 - 10:14 am
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Those who are complaining are

Those who are complaining are taking "political correctness" to the extreme. I see no problem with either the incident nor its posting online; in fact I personally think it brings a bit of personality to the department, shows that the firemen are humans who enjoy a bit of fun. Exactly where is there any disgrace or bad reflection on the department? I've seen overreaction in many areas in recent years and this is a prime example. AS long as the department gets the job done, and I KNOW they do because I have a family member who is a member of that department and also serves as an EMT, what is the problem? I suppose the tape might take 30 seconds or so to get off if a call came in, less time that it would take to get fully dressed if a fireman was sleeping when a call came in. Firemen and policemen are paid to be ready at a moment's notice, not to be in action for eight or twenty four full hours. In incidents like the recent sugar refinery fire in Savannah shifts came and went and firemen were still on the job. They didn't complain so why should the chief or some good two shoes cause a ruckus over this? I hope it's still on You Tube and I can find it. Chill people!

Yak1
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Yak1 04/09/08 - 10:15 am
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LOL..can't tape the

LOL..can't tape the teachers..in a Government school? What would be the difference....?

Here is a double standard, these guys are GRADED on performance every time a TV camera turns on. Every time they go out...they are graded...since when have the catfish of society (i.e. Teachers) ever been graded or held responsible?

Beastmaster
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Beastmaster 04/09/08 - 10:16 am
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Fire101 you are full of it,

Fire101 you are full of it, and thank goodness you are not a fireman now. While I think the joke went a little far and surely should not have been placed on the web, I do not think that firing anyone is going to solve anything. If anything it will cost the taxpayers more in lost fire experience and training funds already expended on the men. I agree that something must be done along the lines of suspension but not permanent firing situation. I am amazed at reading some of these postings though at how ignorant the public is to what a fireman's job entails and I would invite anyone that really wants to see what it entails to join the department. You can then see what the REAL DEAL is and that not one penny of your taxpayer money is wasted when the alarms come in and people are screaming for aid. When people are having the worst days of their lives they call the fire department and the supervisor and fireman in the video are two of the professional fireman that have been to the aid of many a person, yet they are now crying for their termination. I bet you were not hollering fire them when they were dousing the flames or saving a life.

CoastalDawg
125
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CoastalDawg 04/09/08 - 10:23 am
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If the chief fires anyone

If the chief fires anyone over this, he should be the next to go. Toppergem just chill - if it was no big deal for the two involved why should it be a big deal to you? Firemen spend twenty four or forty eight straight hours together, ready, willing and able to come fight a fire at your home. You COULD just go down to the firehouse and monitor them during shifts and keep them "straight". There are plenty of real issues around that need attention - this isn't one of the them. As John Stossel on Twenty Twenty would say "GIVE ME A BREAK"! Has there ever been a time when these particular firemen or any others in the Augusta Fire Department weren't ready to respond to a blaze? THAT would be a problem, this isn't. Firemen are paid to spend time away from family and friends, basically to be "on call" just in case a fire or other emergency requiring their services should happen. A bit of levity to break the monotony is no crime, it's no violation of policy, it doesn't bring any negative reflection to the department, in fact it's just the opposite. Real people finding some fun in a real job that is probably more boring that enjoyment. But they are there ready to serve.

ITDoc
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ITDoc 04/09/08 - 10:25 am
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Based upon the FACT these

Based upon the FACT these boards die @ 5pm nightly, one can wager many of the same bloggers wishing they could get paid for killing time are doing exactly that.

Beastmaster
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Beastmaster 04/09/08 - 10:28 am
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As for the comparison made

As for the comparison made between the sheriffs department and the fire department when it comes to raises. I cant help but laugh at the blindness of the writer to what really goes on. If you think the sheriffs department does not sit around and play pranks then you are on the wrong planet. There is not a worker alive that works around other workers in a close environment that has not played some form of a prank on another worker at one time or another. Unfortunately this prank went to the web and those out there with nothing better to do than want to crucify and raise cane are jumping on the band wagon like some kind of mad mob. And to those wanting the chiefs job, give me a break. that is almost so absurd it deserves no comment. All I can say is to those doing the firing craze, get a life!! The next time you need the fire department rest well assured they will be there to save your mobbing rear just as if you were anyone else. People call the fire department for anything at all from flooding homes/apartments due to negligence or malfunctions,they call when their pets need saving, they call when they are sick or near deaths bed and finally they call for fire response to fire calls

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