Estero firefighters serve alcohol shirtless at fundraiser
ESTRO - Some Estero firefighters are steaming mad after their fire chief asked them to attend a fundraiser shirtless for a group of women all while on duty.
"I needed a couple of the guys that were in the calendar to come over to a charity event," said Fire Chief Scott Vanderbrook. The men who were asked - posed for the firefighter calendar used to raise money for charity.
Station 42 was shut down for a few hours and the firefighters, who were also on duty, attended the event at a resident's home to serve alcohol. "They were still available for calls and were in a staff vehicle. We just took the truck out of service."
Chief Vanderbrooke said he did not see a problem with having the on duty firemen serve alcohol as long as they were not consuming it. He also said that shutting down the station is normal for fundraising activities and is done on a regular basis.
The chief said in the last 30 days, there were at least 42 instances of fire stations being closed for fundraisers, training or public education events.
Firefighter union Vice President Roberto Medina says he's appalled at the fire chief's request. He says the firefighters that were asked to attend felt embarrassed and said many of them initially thought the chief was joking. "They felt that it was a little awkward to go to a private residents in a private subdivision to a private party."
Chief Vanderbrook told the Fire Commission about the issue during Tuesday night's meeting, but only told them about the closing of the fire station for a couple of hours and not about the firefighters going topless or serving alcohol.
The commission all said they did not think that Vanderbrook did anything wrong and even decided to give him a 5% raise after the discussion about the fundraiser.