JOSH KORZENDORFER (Facebook Photo)
by Ashley Johnson
Courier Staff Writer
A volunteer firefighter with the Penn Hills Volunteer Fire Department #221 was terminated Tuesday, April 30, after a complaint about a racist comment he allegedly made on Facebook.
“While we cannot prove the validity of it, I’m not going to dispute it. I handled the situation swiftly,” said Shawn Snyder, chief of the VFD#221, which is located in the predominately Black Lincoln Park section of Penn Hills. “We do not condone, will not condone and we will not tolerate any (offensive) comments. We do not discriminate. We are a department of multi-culture.”
Snyder also added that while the department cannot be responsible for “every little thing said,” they can deal with what people do with the department’s name attached to it.
According to an email received by The New Pittsburgh Courier Tuesday afternoon from “a concerned citizen” at the email address of the Penn Hills VFD#223, firefighter Josh Korzendorfer and his Facebook friend, Chris Meyer, engaged in a conversation calling Black people a stupid breed.
The email included a copy and pasted display of what looks like a Facebook thread, saying:
2 hours ago •- lets smoke some toochie lol black people come up with the stupidest words for sh**t –
Like•Comment•Share•Follow 2 people like this.
Josh Korzendorfer – Amen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Such a Stupid f***ing breed.
Like • 2 hours ago
Chris Meyer f*** yea bro…lol
Snyder said Meyer is not associated with the VFD#221.
When checking into the incident and its validity, the Courier could not view the original posting, due to privacy settings on Meyer’s and Korsendorfer’s pages.
When Snyder was initially contacted about the incident he said he was unaware of it and said although he was not sure that the conversation thread was valid, he would look into the matter.
“This is the first I am hearing about it…You and I know that with software out there anyone could have made it up, so I cannot be sure (the comment is true). But if it is, it will be dealt with swiftly. We don’t operate in that capacity; we’re a very diverse department. We have multiple members of different ethnicities,” Snyder said.
Later in the evening, Snyder contacted the Courier saying, that after receiving the same email as the Courier and looking into the matter, while “neither one of us can ascertain the validity of it (the allegations), Korzendorfer was terminated as of 10:15 p.m. tonight.” He added that he did go on Facebook, but could not find the comments.
Snyder said the department has a long-standing relationship with the community and its entities, especially the Lincoln Park Community Center, and is committed to continuing their partnerships.
Korzendorfer was contacted by the Courier through Facebook, but failed to respond by this publication’s deadline.