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Cape firefighters disciplined in post-funeral incident; officials: investigation sparked by email

By Staff | Nov 10, 2008

The behavior of 42 Cape Coral firefighters during an incident at a business, where several were accused of drinking in uniform and at least one of urinating on another firefighter in public view, has resulted in disciplinary action against them.

Fire Chief Bill Van Helden and the Cape Coral Professional Fire Fighters Local 2424 union agreed to discipline the firefighters by giving 12 hours suspension to 13 supervisory personnel, written reprimands to 11 engineers and documented counseling to 18 others as a result of their actions on Sept. 25 at Diamond Billiards, located at 1242 S.W. Pine Island Road, according to city spokesperson Connie Barron.

A formal investigation was sparked by an email sent to the city manager’s office Sept. 26. The email alleges firefighters acted inappropriately at the business following the funeral of a fellow firefighter, Barron said.

The email was sent from the family member of the firefighter who was allegedly urinated on.

“I passed on the information that was told to me because my family member was too embarrassed at what happened and did not want to make a bigger deal about it because he was new,” said a followup email from the family member. “I felt this was being swept under the rug and my family member was being treated unfairly and was the victim in the situation. It may have been wrong of me but I felt that the person involved would be disciplined. Since that time it has come to my attention that my first letter has caused an investigation within the Fire Department and the city which includes your department… It was my intention to try to bring out the actions of one person and apparently it has affected many others.”

Shane Rackliffe, accused of urinating on a the firefighter mentioned in the email, resigned Oct. 1, prior to the internal investigation, Barron said.

In a Memorandum of Understanding, the union agreed to disciplining the firefighters “based on the nature of events… at Diamond Billiards on Sept. 25,” Barron said.