A fiery sex scandal threatens to burn up multiple firefighters' careers, including some top brass, according to former Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
Ayers told the Daily News today that the investigation into a young paramedic's claims of sexual misconduct began shortly before he retired in June.
The paramedic filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, alleging misconduct against another paramedic. Soon after, rumors surfaced that she had sexual encounters with numerous firefighters, paramedics and supervisors in firehouses while on- and off-duty all around the city.
"That was the word we had," Ayers said. "It's bad stuff."
Ayers said the department's Special Investigations Office got involved once the EEO complaint was filed.
"The SIO started the investigation and started pulling things apart," he said. "They go through [every] step to gather all of the information."
At some point, the complaint was turned over to the city Inspector General's Office, which investigates misconduct and corruption by city employees.
"They'll handle everything," Ayers said of the IG probe. "You could have people getting charged."
Inspector General Amy L. Kurland yesterday declined to confirm the investigation, but sources say her office last week gave city officials a final report recommending the dismissal or discipline of dozens of firefighters, paramedics and supervisors.
Sources say the young paramedic, whose name the Daily News is withholding because of the nature of the allegations, has photos, texts and videos implicating the men involved.
The fire department members recommended for discipline face conduct-unbecoming charges, a source said. Several have retired rather than face discipline, the source added.
Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer referred questions to mayoral spokesman Mark McDonald, who said only: "In general, cases that involve allegations of sexual harassment are handled in a private manner to protect the rights of the alleged victim as well as the alleged perpetrator. While I am not confirming what you are asking about, I can say there was a recent independent investigation that was sent to the Fire Department for follow up consistent with departmental regulations and procedures."
Joe Schulle, president of Local 22 of the firefighters' union, also declined to comment on the probe, saying: "We are aware of the Inspector General's investigation, but cannot and will not comment, as we do not know the specifics of the allegations or the conclusions drawn in the IG's report."
Kurland said agencies have 30 days to respond to her office's recommendations.