Firefighter-paramedic's mother speaks out about captain's 'callous' remarks

Nicole Mittendorff's mother said developing tough skin is not a firefighter's job

By EMS1 Staff

FAIRFAX, Va. — Firefighter-paramedic Nicole Mittendorff's mother said she wasn't surprised to read a letter from a recruit's parent about bullying comments made by a fire captain.

Fairfax County firefighter-paramedic Nicole Mittendorff was bullied online by people who appeared to be firefighters; she died by suicide last year. A letter from a parent of a Fairfax County fire recruit was sent this week, detailing comments about hazing and bullying that allegedly condoned "boys will be boys" behavior, WUSA9 reported.

"No other parent needs to live with what I've gone through," Mittendorff's mother, Marde Clardy, said. "I think it's the same old, same old in the fire department. Chief Bowers says they are making progress and progress takes time. I think he's giving it way too much time."

Fairfax Fire Chief Richard Bowers said he's investigating the captain's comments made during the recruit's family night event.

"I have zero tolerance for any of that type of behavior," Chief Bowers said.

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors also responded to the letter. A supervisor said the comments were a "violation of the employee handbook rules and the code of conduct." A chairman also commented, saying the captain must be disciplined if an investigation finds his comments true.

"Developing tough skin is not the job of firefighters," Clardy said. "Their job is to save lives."

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