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Veteran fire captain suspended after WBRZ asks questions

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BATON ROUGE - A long time captain with the Baton Rouge Fire Department will be suspended unpaid for 10 days at the end of the month for calling another Captain, who was African American, the "N-word".

Word of the suspension came after the WBRZ Investigative Unit began asking questions Tuesday.

The incident centers around what happened inside Baton Rouge Fire Station #14 which is near the airport. Fire Captain Reginald Williams told WBRZ he was inside the fire station when Hairford used the slur in front of other firefighters back in August.

"I felt violated," Williams said.

Williams told WBRZ he filed a complaint with his supervisors immediately, which was ultimately sent to the Human Resources Office for the Parish. However, two months went by and nothing until WBRZ started asking questions today.

A personnel action form obtained by WBRZ late Tuesday was dated today and reads: "Following an investigation by HR, it was determined that on August 14, 2014, Captain Hairford used an inappropriate word while working at Station 14. He is suspended for 10 days and required to attend diversity training based upon this action."

However, the investigation by the Parish Human Resources Office was completed one month ago.

It reads: "We have completed the investigation and have forwarded it on to the appointing authority."

WBRZ asked the fire department why they didn't implement discipline initially when the investigation was closed one month ago. That specific question was never answered.

Instead Chad Major, assistant to Fire Chief Ed Smith said, "We are not going to tolerate offensive language period. It reinforces the fact that we have to reeducate our employees with diversity training."

"The administration, it feels like it failed me doing the proper procedures handling this situation," Williams said.

Hairford's suspension will begin on Halloween. The fire department said he will also lose seniority.

All of the firefighters in the department will be required to take a diversity class soon.

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