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Eisenbeck again

Web Posted: 05/28/2009 12:00 CDT
Camelot VFD is suspended
By Robert Crowe – Express-News

A Northeast Side volunteer fire department has been suspended while the Bexar County Fire Marshal’s Office investigates allegations of misconduct among its members.

County officials this week informed the Camelot Volunteer Fire Department that it would not be permitted to respond to emergencies while fire marshals investigate allegations that its members discriminated against a firefighter because of his sexual orientation, said Camelot VFD Chief Edwin Eisenbeck. The suspension was effective at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

“We’ll get through this,” Eisenbeck said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s just a small stumbling block.”

The suspension could last up to six months. For now, departments in Windcrest and Converse will respond to emergencies in the 3 1/2 miles that cover Camelot’s boundaries.

“We were already on automatic response for their fires,” said Windcrest Volunteer Fire Department Chief Dan Reese. “Now we will be responding to medical emergencies.”

A former volunteer told investigators that colleagues damaged his car because he’s gay, Eisenbeck said. That employee also told investigators that he was terminated because of his sexual orientation.

But Eisenbeck denied that allegation Wednesday.

“I fired him after I found out he stole a couple dollars from other firefighters,” he said. “He told me it was because he was gay. I told him it was because he stole.”

The department was already in trouble with fire marshals after an alleged hazing incident in recent months.

County commissioners suspended the department’s funding after the hazing allegations. Eisenbeck said a captain and lieutenant were terminated as a result of that investigation.

“That wasn’t any hazing going on, but there was a bunch of guys making bad choices,” he said.

Staff Writer Valentino Lucio contributed to this report.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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