A 22-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department claimed responsibility Thursday for maintaining an Internet chat room for firefighters that includes racist comments and step-by-step instructions on how to make a transmission over a fire radio without getting caught.
Webmaster Richard Anderson rejected calls from aldermen who said the Web site, www.chicagofirehouse.ws, should be shut down. The Chicago fire department has become embroiled in controversy after five racist transmissions were made over the fire radio system in recent weeks, the Tribune reports. Officials have been unable to trace the transmissions.
“I don’t know what the city is beefing about,” said Anderson, a fire engineer. “It’s the 1st Amendment, freedom of speech.”
The Web site features an open message board where anyone can post anonymously under the department’s logo and the heading, “The unofficial bulletin board of the Chicago Fire Department.”
In one recent post, someone wrote an epithet for blacks 81 times before ending with: “Thanks!!!! Working tomorrow and just wanted to get it out of my system!!!!!!!”
Other postings decried the racist statements as “childish and stupid.”