City Government

City Pays Union Firefighters To FILL THE BOOT

A reader contacted the GUARDIAN recently saying the Boise Firefighters Union members are “volunteering” for the Muscular Dystrophy Drive while on duty.

We checked with an insider and found that in some cases those guys out playing in traffic are indeed on-duty firefighters. We can overlook the dangers of being in traffic, the intimidation factor, etc., but this union activity–regardless of how noble–shouldn’t be on the taxpayer’s dime.

The GUARDIAN understands the men and equipment are available to respond to emergencies, but hundreds of other good charities don’t get
the services of uniformed city first responders to help with their cause. Someone at the top needs to gently tell these will intentioned public servants to put the boot on the other foot.

The annual drive has a history of sparking complaints from some citizens. If the effort was endorsed by the city council on behalf of the “citizens of Boise,” it wouldn’t be an issue, but when it is a private function of the union it should be on personal time.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. How can anyone think it is ok to collect charitable donations when on duty in a civilian job? Public employees simply don’t understand they are being paid by the public to fulfill a service, not do anything they seem fit. When a large portion of the public is unemployed yet still paying their taxes, how can they accept paying someone else as a public servant to collect cash? CRAZY!

  2. I have complained for years, but never a responce. But the heros are always right. Next they will want to the coppers job.


  3. And let the bashing begin.

  4. take the “to” out please

  5. I used the Mayor’s hotline to complain. I received a very nice call from Bruce Rankin, Division Chief. This has been going on for forty years and is a national tradition. Safety was not compromised. The firefighters are trained to stand in traffic. The onduty firefighters were in the first lane of traffic, close to their trucks. They had radios and were available for quick response.

    The firefighters received official permission from the City Council several years ago. I would like to know how to get permission to slow down traffic and solicit donations for my favorite charity.

  6. If one of the firefighters get hit by a car I wonder if the cities workers comp would pay for it? they are at “work” right?

  7. BrandenDurst
    Aug 17, 2011, 10:37 pm

    Totally disagree with you on this one, Dave. I know its fun for others to pick on union members, but Boise Fire is as good as it gets. These guys (and gals) risk their lives and we should be happy to let them do something to help others. I bet if Micron or somebody else wanted to get permission from the City to solicit support for a worthy charitable cause they’d likely get the okay. Frankly, its tough to understand how anyone could find this objectionable, especially the anti-government crowd. By soliciting private voluntary donations, they are reducing the need for government to raise taxes to provide the care to the beneficiaries. I guess some people can never be happy.

    EDITOR NOTE–You are missing the point Brandon. The issue is doing the union charity while ON DUTY. No one has a problem with the charity work. Micron workers doing the same thing during duty hours don’t get paid by taxpayers. The cause is noble.

  8. If my house catches fire, I think the response would be much faster from the station where the firefighters and all equipment are ready to go. I don’t want to have to wait for the firefighters to wait for traffic to clear so they can run to their truck, suit up, and then go. That just doesn’t make any sense at all. And if they do get hurt in traffic, while on duty, performing a function approved by the city council, we all know they will be taken care of with more of our tax dollars. This practice needs to stop.

  9. Branden,

    Not one person objected to the “charitable act”. The objection was to “tax dollars” being used to pay wages to accomplish the task itself.

    Your comments twisted the whole purpose of the article itself to meet your own liberal agenda. Frankly, I am offended by your attempt to whitewash the issue. Typical Democrat spin job.

    “reducing the need for government to raise taxes to provide care to the beneficiaries”. Really Branden?

    You should appreciate Dave’s kind response. He was much more “charitable” in his comments than I would have been.

  10. “Intimidation factor”? Really?
    With all the things going on in the world, we are going to complain about union members supporting a charity? If they are still available to responde when needed, I actually prefer they be helping a community organization than sitting at the fire house watching TV. I love dropping my money in the boot!
    Honestly, I don’t see this as a priority public policy issue.
    P.S. There are businesses who allow their employees to “volunteer” on the clock

    EDITOR NOTE–Lisa, if the firefighters are available to solicit for MS, Cancer, YMCA, churches, etc. as requested by those groups, no problem. This is a union activity–noble as we acknowledged, but still on the taxpayer dime. Will they allow on duty building inspectors to solicit for their favorite charity? We think not.

  11. Thanks Branden for reminding the Unions to make contributions to your next political campaign.

  12. Your kidding on this one….right?!

  13. Who picked the charity they raise money for? Why don’t they raise money for local charities?

  14. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 18, 2011, 11:49 am

    How can you tell if they are collecting for charity as union members or as city employees? You can’t.

  15. BrandenDurst
    Aug 18, 2011, 2:18 pm

    Nate – I didn’t realize I had a liberal agenda, so thanks for filling me in. I guess if my liberal agenda is supporting the public safety officers in Boise provide for charity then I am happy with the charge. In terms of the “tax dollars” being spent, if you don’t like it then run for Boise City Council or have someone you know and get them to stop.

    JJ – They don’t need to be reminded. They know who fights for the middle class and who doesn’t.

  16. If tax dollars were spent paying EMS or the Police for similar actions, (or any other public employees) besides firefighters, regardless of any ones well-intentions, I’m sure the complaints would dominate the mayors hotline.

  17. Why “gently”. They are ripping us all off and have the nerve to act all noble about it. This is entitlement gone too far. It is a prime example of what’s wrong with this country. Dave, could you post the pay scales of the fire department please… just help people see clearly on this. Probably counting it for overtime too?

  18. On a side note, why are there IAFF union logo stickers on the taxpayers fire trucks?

  19. Do they contribute to everyone? No. But should we halt the benefit to one group because they can’t give to every group? Who wins there?

    I am perfectly content that my tax dollars go to providing fire protection and help a good cause at the same time. This might be one of the few where they can do both and still meet their job duties.

    Let’s see…two days a year, instead waiting at the fire station, fire fighters multi-task and do some good for a charity they have decided to help.

    Two days…in the grand scale of things, I really think this is a miniscule issue to complain about.

  20. Dave,
    You didn’t jump all over the mail carriers when they knocked on your door, while on duty bringing your mail, asking you to help “Stamp out Hunger.” If it is for a good cause and service isn’t effected then is it really that big of an issue? Most would say no, in fact most didn’t care as they helped the house dousers raise over $40,000 last weekend. It wasn’t a big deal at all until someone (BG) brings in that nasty UNION word. Now all of a sudden its a political issue. Well Dave maybe we should put a different spin on it and instead of all of us wasting our time on this silly little blog we should all go out and find a charity in need. Finally, I hope nobody else is reading this while they are on the clock!

  21. I see both sides of the story and understand the motives. This story maybe lacking some numbers of those on duty. “Some” in my business means 11-25%. Are we talking about this many or over 50%?

    Should we complain about teachers collecting for the IEA Children’s Fund too? I am sure there are other examples too.

  22. SpongeBob:

    Since I am self-employed, I am on the clock early reading this post. I don’t care for the “boot event,” although I generally fork over a buck and stick the sticker in my window so I’m not bothered again while I am driving. This is a distraction and panhandling for a charity that is not my charity of choice. Nothing against the charity, and I fully support our public safety workers. I don’t like letter carriers bothering me either. I just want my mail. Those paid by the taxpayers should stick to business and do their charity work on their own time. Some other good charities for those who like to or can give include: FACES, Boys and Girls Club of Ada County, Special Olympics, etc.

    Good Friday morning to all.

    P.S. Not all Democrats are liberals.


  23. Branden,

    Why is the only solution to concerns over government “If you don’t like it run for office?” In a representative system why can’t we tell our representatives, and in this case Council members?

    Why can’t we write on these pages and others? Letters and phone calls to our representatives? March and carry signs? Are you saying we shouldn’t do these things?

    I hope not because that is scary.

  24. Oh Branden Durst – great use of the dem talking points. “They know who fights for the middle class and who doesn’t.”

    How about looking at it from another standpoint shall we? How about if it was Republican legislators “filling the boot” while the session was ongoing, thereby “filling the boot” on our dime, the taxpayer’s dime. Would that be okay with you or would you howl like a scalded cat? And since the firefighter’s (85% of whose call outs do NOT include fighting fires) have some absurd number of days off between shifts, why can’t they have those off duty “fill the boot”? They could still wear their taxpayer paid T-shirts and pants and socks, they would just be donating their time and not ours.

    Lisa. Seriously. The point is, if you want to give to charity, whether it be time or money, have it be your own time or money and not the taxpayers. It’s always so easy to spend other people’s money (and that includes the time one is paid for to do one’s job), but it’s only charitable when it’s on your dime.

  25. Eye on Numbers
    Aug 19, 2011, 11:39 am

    Note to Sponge Bob, Mail carriers are not holding up traffic with their annual food drive.

    Fill the boot is a national deal? Since when did this tradition start? I have lived in a number of places in my 65 years and Idaho is the only place I have ever seen this sort of thing and only in the last decade or so have I seen this activity.

    Here’s a thought, the Fire Guys are on the payroll while doing this, why don’t they donate their pay received filling the boot? I find this “tradition” a very dangerous practice akin to looky loo people at a traffic accident and all the traffic back up and potential for harm to citizens, their property (vehicles) and to firemen in the flow of traffic. The value of this activity against the risks doesn’t make sense.

  26. I take issue with donating to a cause I don’t necessarily want to donate to. I have causes to which I donate, but by paying their wages while they do this, I am in essence donating to their cause through my taxes. That doesn’t sit right with me.

  27. sam the sham
    Aug 19, 2011, 11:47 pm

    If you, like myself, do not approve then do not donate. If they don’t make money then they have no good reason to do this stunt.

  28. Getting paid to do charity work is far from charitable..

  29. Branden,

    Let’s see, you included a comment about the “anti-government crowd” in your response, and no one had taken that turn yet.

    You also intimate that without this exact type of activity, you would be all for raising taxes to give money to the “beneficiaries”.

    The reason you don’t see Micron employee’s on the clock soliciting donations is because management knows that specific activity would be held accountable to the stockholders (taxpayers), do you get it now.

    Your initial comment and subsequent response is so blatantly righteous it’s pathetic.

    The reason you got beat in your last election is because you don’t LISTEN to your constituents. You see, I shouldn’t have to run for office to get my wishes realized. I simply call my Councilperson, or legislator, and let them know how I want them to vote. The public servant, hearing from many others, realizes he/she is there to carry out our wishes, follows suit.

    See how that works.

    I repeat, typical liberal Democrat spin job.

  30. I really don’t care if the firefighters want to solicit donations for a charity. I do, however, question if parking 4 fire trucks in the parking lot of Winco at Fairview and Milwaukee for hours at a time is a “legitimate” use of OUR equipment!
    Mr. Durst, your first comment was to be expected given your political leanings. The last sentence of your second response was down right ‘patronizing’ and I found it highly offensive. You should know better!!!

  31. Rod in SE Boise
    Aug 22, 2011, 11:00 am

    Brandon is correct. I know who is fighting for the middle class and who isn’t.

  32. Branden fights, first and foremost, for Branden’s re-election! Period! No better, or worse than any other state legislator from either party. My question is ‘Just when did holding an elected office become a “career”‘????

  33. Cyclops,

    As mentioned in an earlier post, Branden got beat in his last election attempt. He holds no elected office.

    You are, in effect, correct, he only fights for himself, or, his future election.

    However, as his constituency voted him out of office, I can only surmise that it must have been because they didn’t feel he was “fighting for them”.

    Amazing the way that works, isn’t it.

    Branden just doesn’t get it. Probably never will from the tone in his posts.

  34. If the public is ready to get over the misplaced hero worship of fire dept employees, start with the straight 48 schedule. They obviously are sleeping for half the time they are getting paid. Two days of 48 hours in a row and then 5 days off for their real jobs is quite a life.

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