‘Bizarre’ Firefighter Debate Criticized

By John Celock

Firefighters in one central Kansas community will be allowed to raise money for charity from drivers but not after local officials questioned if it was safe.

Salina City Commissioners votes four to one on Monday to allow local firefighters to conduct a “Fill The Boot” campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association from drivers in the community, the Salina Journal reported. But officials did raise questions on whether it was safe to have firefighters standing in traffic to raise the funds.

The Salina Journal reported that Commissioners Kaye Crawford (D) and Randall Hardy (D) both expressed concerns about the danger that could occur by allowing firefighters the right to raise money in this way. Crawford was the only vote against the fundraising drive, expressing concern about the precedent set would mean other groups could do this in the future, the Salina Journal reported.

Mayor Aaron Householter (R) told The Celock Report that commissioners had been briefed that by voting to allow the firefighters to raise money for the MDA from drivers, the city would have to allow other groups to have similar fundraisers. He said the city manager had expressed some concerns, which led to Crawford’s no vote.

“It is not so much the fear for the firemen but from the other people,” Householter told The Celock Report.

Householter admitted that it “seems odd” to question the safety of firefighters of standing in traffic when their job description calls for them to enter burning buildings. He noted that firefighters are trained to run into a burning building and know what to expect.

At the same time Householter admitted that the city government does not need to over regulate.

“We got to protect the public, but sometimes we get too parental,” he said. “We were getting a little nitpicky about a standard thing that goes on.”

As part of the plan, Householter said that firefighters will need to wear shirts from the MDA, along with reflective vests. He said that drivers who donate will be given stickers they can show at other intersections.

Householter expressed further concerns over the debates city government was having about the limitations on what the public could and could not do.

“Any time we allow the public to do something fun, we have to include a side effects may include,” he said. “A discussion on doing something fun turns into a two hour debate on the evils.”

Crawford did not return voicemails left by The Celock Report for comment. While Crawford had said she was concerned about the precedent being set, at least one Salina state lawmaker has concerns that it reflects the thoughts of the city government.

“These types of bizarre attacks on Salina firefighters and charities are sadly what we’ve come to expect from Democrats on the commission,” state Rep. J.R. Claeys (R-Salina) told The Celock Report. “We’re talking about Salina Firefighters raising money at an intersection during daylight hours. These are the brave few who run into burning buildings, I think they understand the danger.”

Householter told The Celock Report that he would keep an eye on other groups who may use this fundraising method and if there are issues he would be willing to reexamine the plan and stop this method. He said he hopes groups will use good judgment going forward.

The mayor did stress that regardless of the method of fundraising, that community wants to help non-profits.

“Salina is a pretty giving community,” he said.