After an October incident where on-duty San Jose firefighters made stops at two strip clubs, in a fire engine, the department chief has issued an apology, but has otherwise dug in his heels and refused to answer questions.
In early October, the video below sure raised some eyebrows in San Jose. We see a San Jose fire truck stationed in front of a strip club, lights flashing and certainly appearing to be on duty, and a scantily clad woman wearing nothing but a bikini and high heels exits the truck and walks into the Pink Poodle strip club. The ensuing controversy was certainly a marketing boon for the San Jose’s Pink Poodle strip club, but obviously a black eye for the fire department.
Perhaps this was some misunderstanding, we thought, amd maybe there is an innocent explanation for this. That benefit of the doubt was stripped off when we learned the next month that the truck visited a second strip club minutes later. NBC Bay Area obtained department records which not only found that there was “never a call for service at the Pink Poodle that night requiring a response from Station 4 firefighters,” but also on that October 5 evening at “9:14 p.m., Engine 4’s GPS pings approximately two miles away, with the engine stopped in the vicinity AJ’s bikini bar on Lincoln Avenue. GPS data shows the engine parked there for about four more minutes before driving away.”
Then-San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo fumed at the time that “If the [city] investigation concludes that this video is as bad as it looks, then heads must roll. We cannot have a life-critical emergency rescue apparatus relegated to a frat party bus, nor tolerate any conduct that so demeans the heroic work of the rest of our SJFD team.”
Liccardo is no longer mayor, the city investigation has concluded, and KRON4 reports that San Jose Fire Chief Robert Sapien has issued an apology. “Based on the investigation findings, it was determined that the actions related to the video … constituted violation of specific policies and procedures and rules and regulations,” he wrote in a memo to city council.
“The actions portrayed in the video were received with disappointment and concern, as they appeared seriously misaligned with the Department’s mission and values and were highly detrimental to the confidence and trust of our community and our workforce,” he continued. “The Department regrets that this event occurred and extends a sincere apology to all who bore the burden of this event.”
But the Pink Poodle incident is still dogging the department, as Chief Sapien is refusing to name the firefighters involved, merely saying it will be “directly addressed.” KRON4 adds “the chief sent disciplinary action recommendations to the City Manager,” which they say stated that “Standards of conduct will also be reinforced department-wide.”
That leaves many critics alleging we’re seeing a strip club cover-up. Additionally, KRON4 confirmed that as of two weeks ago, the firefighters involved in the Pink Poodle incident are still on the job. “You can’t make this stuff up. It is so hush hush in our department,” an anonymous department firefighter told KRON4. “It’s an internal affairs deal. We are in the dark about it too."
That same firefighter adds, "Our department has been known for buffoonery."
Image: Pink Poodle via Yelp (NSFW!)