The Seattle Fire Department has launched an investigation following the discovery of a noose inside a fire station in the Bitter Lake neighborhood.

A firefighter found a “rope tied in a noose” last week, which was brought to the attention of supervisors, according to department spokesperson Kristin Tinsley, who said SFD is working with the city attorney’s office and has hired an independent investigator.

“Discrimination and racial harassment are antithetical to SFD’s values and will not be tolerated,” Tinsley said in a statement Wednesday. “The department takes any complaints of discrimination and harassment very seriously and will use all appropriate measures to address any violations of policy.”

Tinsley declined to share any additional details about the incident to “maintain the integrity of the investigative process.” The investigation was first reported by The Stranger.

In a Feb. 18 email to department staff and firefighters, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said he was “dismayed,” the incident occurred during Black History Month and that nooses have an “undeniable history in our nation as a symbol of racial hate and intimidation and historically has been used to murder Black people,” according to a copy of the email obtained through a public records request.

Scoggins also acknowledged Seattle Fire Station 24 is the same station that had “inadvertently” used an “old patch with racist iconography” in its 2020 yearbook. Regardless of the intent, Scoggins said “there is no circumstance in which it could reasonably be considered innocent or appropriate.”  

“I want to commend the firefighter for the courage to report what they found and the officer for making sure this was brought to SFD leadership,” Scoggins wrote. “I also wish to acknowledge how this affects our Black firefighters and professional staff. I see you, and I understand.”