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City Fire Department Rookie Fired for Smoking Cigarette

Chris Casteel Published: January 10, 1985

The Oklahoma City fire department has fired a rookie caught smoking during his lunch break, authorities said Wednesday.

The action was to enforce a new no-smoking rule for recruits.

Fire department officials would not confirm the name of the recruit.

He is 22-year-old Greg Grusendorf, son of a 20-year veteran of the Oklahoma City fire department, The Oklahoman has learned. Grusendorf would not comment on the firing, referring the call to his attorney Steve Angel.

Angel said, "It's my understanding he was discharged pursuant to a rule that prohibited smoking on or off duty. I'm researching the constitutional implications. I think it's objectionable, to tell you the truth."

Grusendorf was a member of the first class of Oklahoma City rookies who signed an affidavit stating they would not smoke for one year, said department Maj. Jon Hansen.

"We don't admit smokers anymore," Hansen said. "It was discussed at the personnel department and with the city manager. Not smoking for a year is a condition of employment when the recruit comes to work."

Angel said, "It's pretty clear to me that the rule was well-publicized (to rookie firemen). The problem is: can you condition employment on an unconstitutional rule?"

After one year, "they can do whatever they want," Hansen said.

"We realize it's the right of a person to smoke if he wants to."

Grusendorf was "caught smoking on a lunch break and terminated for it" on Dec. 14, Hansen said.

Chris Harwell, Grusendorf's aunt, said her nephew had always wanted to be a fireman.

"It was a really bad deal. That was the way he wanted to support his family. He had quit his other job as a maintenance worker, and he had some of the highest grades of anybody over there," Mrs. Harwell said.

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