Rookie Detroit firefighter Robert Pattison, eager to officially start his new job, stopped by Engine 55 to introduce himself. While not mandatory, probationary firefighters traditionally bring along a small gift for their new colleagues.

Before the whole thing was over, Pattison was fired before he officially started.

As reported by WJBK in Detroit, doughnuts are usually the gift of choice, but rookies are allowed to bring in whatever they choose.

Unfortunately for Pattison, he chose a watermelon — adorned with a pink bow:


Some African-American firefighters were instantly offended, and according to WJBK, 90 percent of the people who work at Engine 55 are black.

WJBK asked Second Battalion Chief Shawn McCarty, who is black, if it was racially insensitive for Pattison to bring a watermelon into the firehouse.

“To some people,” he said, but he doesn't think Pattison should've lost his job over the incident:

“I don't think so, I don't think so. Between what he did and losing his job, there are a few things that could have been done.”

In a statement, Fire Commissioner Eric Jones explained why Pattison was discharged:

"There is zero tolerance for discriminatory behavior inside the Detroit Fire Department. On Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017, at Engine 55, a trial firefighter (probationary employee) engaged in unsatisfactory work behavior which was deemed offensive and racially insensitive to members of the Detroit Fire Department.

After a thorough investigation, it was determined that the best course of action was to terminate the employment of this probationary employee."

Firefighter Patrick Trout disagreed with the decision to fire Pattison, but said he should've known better:

“When you get your first detail at a firehouse, you pretty much know what you are getting yourself into. So you would have to say it was probably a bad call.”

Pattison told WJBK the watermelon wasn't a joke, nor did intend to offend anyone.

Video of the segment is below.

View Comments(86 comments)
IntegrityImportant(20 likes)90% of firefighters at the Detroit station in question are minority, huh? Pretty good odds. Here's the thing, not everyone is so well informed to know that a certain percentage of that 90% would be sensitive to a watermelon. Folks we've got to grow up just a little. I'd bet money if this new firefighter knew the historical significance of the watermelon, he would not have brought it. But to be so offended that he gets fired, that's a big stretch and is a good example of why whites are beginning to push back. I've said it before and i'll say it again: NOT EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS IN THIS OLE WORLD IS ABOUT R A C E!! And not everyone eating watermelon is a racist!
Morte206 (17 likes)Apparently white people can no longer enjoy watermelon as it appears that to do so is a form of "triggering cultural appropriation ".Now is it only the actual watermelon that is offensive or would he have been in the wrong if he had brought in a "bouquet" of watermelon lollipops? Heaven forbid the man like watermelon, what about honeydew melons or cantaloupe? Are those enjoyable cross racially or are they limited to whites?
@Seabee95(16 likes)Pathetic.  I spent the first 27 years of my life either as a military dependant or serving in the military.  Being around minorities was just a way of life and no one ever taught me that they were different than me.  We all dealt with the same crap.  Buying a watermelon isn't racist, it is a gesture.  If you get offended by watermelon, the watermelon is the least of your problems.  My wife grew up in the south and eats greens, fried chicken and loves sweet tea.  Does that make her a racist?  No.  It makes her normal.  We as a country need to stop thinking others are doing things to hurt our feelings.  It isn't other peoples responsibility to know what offends me, it is my responsibility to learn what their intent is before I judge them on their actions.  In this hyper racial society I guess the days of melting together to be one is not socially acceptable anymore.