The San Jose Fire Department is continuing its investigation of the circumstances surrounding last week's release of an undated video showing a bikini-clad stripper stepping out of a city firetruck and walking into the Pink Poodle strip club on South Bascom Avenue.
The 19-second video went viral across multiple social media platforms almost immediately after it was posted on Instagram Oct 6, first by a private individual, then by an Instagram account called San Jose Foos, which has 108,000 followers. It then continued to roar like a wildfire across news platforms – Fox, CNN, CBS, even to People and the UK’s Daily Mail.
The video includes the caption, “Only in San Jose do you see a stripper come out of a firetruck.”
Many commenters reacted with humor, even sympathy to the video of a San Jose firetruck taken from a distance in the dark. The camera zooms in to show a woman wearing a skimpy white bikini and spike heels stepping out of the Type 1 fire engine and walking into the strip club; then it repeats in a loop.
City officials didn’t see any humor in it.
“If the investigation concludes that this video is as bad as it looks, then heads must roll,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement. “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.”
The mayor called Fire Chief Robert Sapien Jr. “one of our nation’s finest chiefs” whom he expects to “respond accordingly.”
Sapien said his internal investigation is continuing. Other than announcing it is investigating the video, the department provided few details.
“The department has become aware of a concerning video posted on social media,” Sapien said in a statement. “An investigation has been initiated to determine facts surrounding the video.”
The fire department said in a statement that if its investigation finds there was “inappropriate behavior of any department members, appropriate steps will be taken to address the matter.”
The firefighters union also is taking it seriously. Firefighters Local 230 tweeted the next day: “We are aware of the situation. This union does not condone what was seen on video. The fire department is handling and investigating. This does not represent the values of San Jose firefighters Local 230. “
Here is a sampling of random Twitter responses last week:
- “Why is no one asking why this guy was filming the firetruck and happens to zoom in with perfect timing when the young lady leaves the truck. This doesn't seem like a setup at all. Is this really what the city needs to spend time and money reviewing?”
- “That's somebody dropping their wife or girlfriend off for work. No, he shouldn't be doing that, but come on people. She's dressed for work, going to work clearly. For all of the prudes, that's what's going on here in this ‘scandalous’ video. Ppl need to get lives, for real.”
- “I live downtown and I've seen sjfd picking up drunk girls in their trucks on weekends more than once.”
- “Please don't help perpetuate something based on a few seconds of video. There are many possibilities. We don't see any firefighters in the video. People are drawing conclusions and making assumptions based on a few seconds of video that don't show the whole story.”
- " ‘If it's as bad as it looks, heads must roll.’ “ How does this appear so terrible that someone, or persons ‘must’ lose their job? Are firemen that expendable? Maybe the mayor, who just lowered morale, should go?”
- “I thought well hell, someone at the fire dept has a girlfriend who works there, dropped her off for work. Although if it was a party bus moment, they're in soooo much trouble.”
The fire department said in a statement:
“San José Fire Department is committed to serving the community by protecting life, property, and the environment through prevention and response. It is the goal of the department to serve the community with courtesy and service. As such, it takes all feedback regarding the conduct of its employees seriously.”
“If findings of an internal investigation reveal inappropriate behavior of any Department members, appropriate steps will be taken to address the matter. The City of San José Code of Ethics policy guides the conduct of all City employees. All City of San José employees are expected to adhere to the Code of Ethics Policy they have agreed to as a condition of their employment.”