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Alameda County Fire Station's New Year Card Slammed as Racially Offensive

SAN LORENZO (KPIX) -- The Alameda County Fire Department is taking heat for some racially insensitive photos.

A Chinese lunar New Year card depicts firefighters from Station 22 in San Lorenzo wearing bamboo hats and reinforcing racist stereotypes like Chinese firefighters being bad drivers, being too short to reach the ladder and setting off fireworks.

"When I received it I thought it was a joke," said Carl Chan, vice president of Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. "It is quite racially offensive," he added.

Chan says he saw the card several weeks ago but wanted to make sure it was real before talking to the media.

On April 3, he sent a letter to the Alameda County Fire Department calling the pictures "a disgusting example" saying "this is not a fire house but instead a frat house."

Alameda County Fire Department chief David Rocha released a statement saying, "The ACFD is taking this issue very seriously. It is inconsistent with our values and the respect we demand our employees demonstrate toward the communities we serve. The matter is under investigation as a personnel matter; as such, we have no further comment."

Chan says he'd like to see disciplinary action taken, adding "if they are picking on the Asian community they also could be picking on the Hispanic community or African American community so something's got to be done."

It's unclear if the firefighters were on duty when the photos were taken.

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