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Firefighters file complaints against SLO Fire Chief, City Manage - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Firefighters file complaints against SLO Fire Chief, City Manager over video

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Screen grab from a video produced by San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garret Olson for a Chamber of Commerce dinner. Screen grab from a video produced by San Luis Obispo Fire Chief Garret Olson for a Chamber of Commerce dinner.

Two firefighters have filed complaints with the City of San Luis Obispo against the city's fire chief and city manager.

They, along with some other community members, say they're outraged over a video played at the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce's annual dinner

It's a video that, according to the fire chief, jokingly refers to San Luis Obispo firefighters as hot and sexy. 

But at least two firefighters aren't laughing.

They've filed a complaint against Fire Chief Garret Olson and City Manager Katie Lichtig, calling the video inappropriate.

The complaints have prompted an internal investigation. 

According to the Chamber, videos shown at the annual dinner are meant to be funny, but Chief Olson says, if he had to do it over again, he'd do it differently.
 
"I'm not here to defend my actions, I'm here to apologize to anyone that was offended," said Chief Olson.

The first part of the six-and-a-half minute long video shows the fire chief discussing his duties as an emcee for the Chamber dinner as several female Chamber employees ask, "Before you go, can you please tell me, are any of those hot firefighters going to be at the annual dinner?"

The second half of the video features the city manager and Chamber employees dancing and rapping in t-shirts meant to look like the upper body of a muscular man.

San Luis Obispo City Firefighters' Local 3523 characterized it as a highly offensive sexual objectification of city firefighters.
  
"When the video was first created, the intention was for it to be good-natured, entertaining, self-deprecating again, with no desire to be disrespectful to anybody. I stand here to be accountable and apologetic to anyone that was offended by the video," said Olson.

The chief said he was trying to poke fun at himself. 

City Manager Katie Lichtig issued a statement that reads in part, "I apologize that my role was offensive to some. Additionally, I regret not fully contemplating the reaction some had to the video. I would never want to offend any member of the community."

Erik Baskin, one of the firefighters who filed a complaint, told KSBY he is upset over the employees' inappropriate conduct and the use of city resources.

"I produced the video myself and I did it on my own time with my own resources. I did it on my personal computer. No city resources were used," said Olson.

The fire chief did say the video was shot in the fire department museum on a weekday during his normal work hours.

"I will fully and faithfully participate in whatever the next steps are so we can figure out the issue and so that I can learn from it," said Olson.

The city attorney said the investigation is proceeding with the use of an independent outside investigator.
 
 
 

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