Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Firefighters will have to 'Fill the Boot' mostly on own time

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 12:04 PM

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Since 1954, the International Association of Fire Fighters — a union with a local chapter for the Colorado Springs Fire Department — has been conducting the “Fill the Boot “ fundraiser to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

In Colorado Springs, the fundraiser has taken place over the Labor Day weekend by on and off-duty firefighters as long as anyone can remember. But that will change this year. Interim Fire Chief Rich Brown (shown left) says he’ll only allow firefighters to spend one or two hours of work time daily to collect for the charity.

Brown says that firefighters had come to see the fundraiser in a competitive way, and were eager to outperform other stations. Indeed, the city was often No. 1 in collections for the state. Brown applauds the enthusiasm for “a tremendous cause,” but says firefighters had begun to delay required training in order to focus on fundraising.

“I just wanted to make sure our priorities were straight,” he says. “Our priority is response. And our second priority is training for response.”

Brown says he has other reasons as well. He felt that it might be perceived by the public as inappropriate to have on-duty city employees working charitably. And he also felt that supporting one cause with on-duty time, while not allowing the same for any other cause, seemed unfair.

Brown’s decision has been unpopular with firefighters and much of the public. But Brown says he feels he made the right decision. He also says he made it independently.

“This wasn’t a mayor issue; this wasn’t a Steve Cox issue; this was my issue,” he says.

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