Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief fired for racist comments, department says

Battalion chief was telling story when he used racial epithet

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – An Orange County Fire Rescue battalion chief is off the job for using “racist and derogatory remarks” while on duty, according to the department.

A predetermination hearing letter dated Oct. 29 claims that Battalion Chief Robert Izzo was telling a story about something that happened during his childhood on Sept. 15 when he used a racial epithet while describing a Black male who was involved in the story.

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Records show other firefighters, including a Black lieutenant, heard Izzo use the racial term and immediately called out his inappropriate behavior.

“I was not looking at you, so you shouldn’t be offended,” Izzo told the Black lieutenant, according to the letter.

During a review of the incident, Izzo admitted that he never should have used the racial epithet, records show.

He was found to have violated department conduct related to human resources, unbecoming conduct and discrimination. He was fired on Oct. 29.

The report didn’t provide details about the story Izzo was telling.

“Orange County Fire Rescue initiated an internal investigation after being made aware of racist and derogatory remarks Izzo made while on the job. Orange County Fire Rescue has zero tolerance for offensive conduct and is committed to holding all of our employees to the agency’s core values of duty, integrity and respect. Information gathered during the investigation, in conjunction with the seriousness of the offense, prompted the department to terminate employment, effective Oct. 29, 2020,” the department said in a statement.

Izzo was hired in 1999 and earned $106,974 per year.

About the Author:

Adrienne joined News 6's digital team in October 2016 to cover breaking news, crime and community interest stories. She graduated from the University of Central Florida and began her journalism career at the Orlando Sentinel.