BANGOR, Maine — Fire Chief Scott Lucas said Wednesday that when he left a Friday meeting with leaders of the department’s annual Fill the Boot fundraising campaign for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, it appeared he had created new rules barring the use of city equipment, uniforms and on-duty personnel.
Word about the “rules” spread like wildfire and Lucas is taking full responsibility for the misconception, he said.
“I apologized to them and took responsibility for any misunderstanding that occurred in our meeting,” the fire chief said. “I believed it was an ongoing conversation. They were going to get me some answers and that inherently told me that we were going to converse further. I was gone and it didn’t help that I was gone,” Lucas said. “[The misunderstanding] gained momentum.”
Firefighter-paramedic Jeff Sennet, who is leading this year’s MDA campaign, and another firefighter spoke with Lucas on Friday to give him an update on plans for this year’s first fundraising event at the Tim McGraw concert later this month. It was at that meeting that the fire chief created the new set of rules, union representative John York said Monday, shortly after he and Sennett met with City Manager Cathy Conlow.
Lucas said he is a longtime supporter of the MDA and supports the fundraising, which has raised $145,000 in Bangor over the last decade, but as the department’s leader he must always consider the worst-case scenario with equipment and personnel.
“It’s really just something we need to look at as a department,” Lucas said about the new policies being discussed.
In years past, the city’s heavy rescue or another firetruck was parked near the entrance to the waterfront concerts located across the street from the Main Street fire station, and firefighters, some on-duty and some volunteers, would greet those who entered carrying “retired” rubber firefighter boots that patrons filled with donations for the MDA.
On-duty firefighters would be in uniform, while most of the volunteers would wear bright yellow T-shirts purchased a couple years ago that showcase the MDA logo.
“There is not one single big issue,” Lucas said. “On-duty personnel is a question. Frontline resources being utilized is a question. It’s really looking at parameters and frequency. Historically, it’s changed.”
The MDA has been supported by the International Association of Fire Fighters, which includes Bangor, for the last six decades.
What the new policy regarding fundraising will entail is an ongoing discussion he is having with firefighters, Lucas said. No decisions have been made.
“It’s just a question of balance,” the fire chief said. “I respect and appreciate what they’ve done and the history. We are going to come up with something together that suits everybody’s needs. Things are actually status quo until we develop policy.”
Sennet said his plans are to be at the Tim McGraw concert on May 29 with his MDA boot in hand.