Petersburg firefighter under scrutiny on claims of racism

PETERSBURG, Va. (WRIC) — A Petersburg firefighter is currently under fire on claims of racism.

Stacey Claiborne wrote a letter to management after an incident at Company No. 5 on Johnson Road. Claiborne said she stopped by the fire station after her 11-year-old son had a nose bleed.

“The firefighter came around the corner that told my son that he couldn’t have any ice. He said, ‘I said don’t give her no ice. Go out to the car and find out what’s really going on.'” — Stacey Claiborne

“I go to the fire house and told my oldest son, here take this glove, go to the fire house and ask them to give you some ice in this glove so I can get it on your brother’s nose so I can get his nosebleed under control,” Stacey Claiborne said.

Claiborne said a firefighter refused to give her son a glove of ice.

“My son comes back and says the firefighter told me I can’t get any ice, it’s for their personal use,” Claiborne said.

Claiborne says she went inside the fire station herself to make the request.

“I met with a different firefighter. I asked can I get some ice? My son is having a bad nose bleed. I just need the ice to get his nosebleed under control. So he said sure ma’am, I will get it for you,” said Claiborne.”The firefighter came around the corner that told my son that he couldn’t have any ice. He said, ‘I said don’t give her no ice. Go out to the car and find out what’s really going on.'”

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Claiborne said about seven minutes went by while her son’s nose continued to bleed.

“I felt it was a black-white thing. I hate to say it, and it I hate to call a spade a spade, but as the children say, it is what it is. It is the truth. I felt like it was a racial thing. He comes out with paper and a clipboard in hand. He started asking me questions about my son’s name. How old he was. I told him that’s not relevant information right now. I just need the ice for my son’s nose,” Claiborne added.

“I felt it was a black-white thing. I hate to say it, and it I hate to call a spade a spade, but as the children say, it is what it is. It is the truth. I felt like it was a racial thing.” — Stacey Claiborne

According to Claiborne, she left after realizing she wasn’t going to get any assistance.

“I notice that we are going back and forth and you are not helping me. I’m telling you what I need and you are not helping me. So when I chose to leave, the firefighter that was going to give me the ice said ma’am, I’m sorry. I really was going to give you the ice. He looked intimidated by his commander. I guess he was following a direct order,” Claiborne said.

Fire officials say they have received Stacey Claiborne’s complaint and the incident is currently under investigation.

8News spoke with Petersburg Deputy Fire Chief Emergency Management Coordinator Brian Sturdivant about the incident.

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“The ice and the icemakers that are in the fire station are typically for the use of the fire crews especially in lieu of the type of weather that we have been experiencing, but a company officer or an acting company officer has the discretion in real time to make a decision on how the ice is to be utilized,” Studivant said. “We do frown on a chest full of ice or buckets of ice being made available to the general public along the lines for a first aid situation.”

Sturdivant did say a glove full of ice did not seem an unreasonable request, though.

“However, I feel it is within reason and is acceptable and we possibly could have facilitated that,” Sturdivant said.

Crews were planning on meeting with the firefighter involved today, but he took a day of leave.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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