ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 was tipped off about an investigation into the Orange County Fire Department after a firefighter working a Pine Hills fire scene a couple months ago noticed someone had painted a Confederate flag on a Station 42 ax.
Reporter Kathi Belich found each fire station has several axes for everyone's use, and the department said the ax in question was taken out of the mix as soon as the rebel flag emblem was discovered.
"It makes me feel like if a person, a firefighter, came to my house with an ax with a rebel flag on it, I'm not going to feel safe. I'm going to feel like that they might not even want to help me. They're just there because it's their job to be there," said Pine Hills resident Jermaine Bonner.
It also isn't the first time a Confederate flag has created a stir in the department.
In 2002, controversy surfaced after an anonymous letter was sent to Channel 9 showing photographs of firefighters' helmets from Orange County Fire Station 70 in the Oak Ridge area with Confederate flag decals on them.
"It's 2013, you know. People need to get over the slavery days and stuff. We're all equal so I feel like they should get over that," said Pine Hills resident Ashley Mattis.
The investigation, which is being conducted by Orange County Professional Standards, has expanded to determine whether more than one firefighter was involved and what the intentions were.
The fire department told Channel 9 that it will take the appropriate action once everyone who was involved is identified.
There's no word on how long the investigation will take.