Local News

Cary, Firefighters Association At Odds Over Hurricane Fund-Raising Plan

Posted October 5, 2005 7:06 a.m. EDT

— Across the Town of Cary, there are six fire stations.

The Cary Professional Firefighters Association wants to use those locations as drop-off spots to raise money for fellow firefighters and paramedics in the Gulf Coast region who were impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

"A lot of our members, just like normal citizens, lost everything," said Andy Hiscock, president of the Cary Professional Firefighters Association. The group is associated with the International Association of Firefighters Union.

As a Cary firefighter, Hiscock asked town leaders for permission to raise money.

Town leaders denied his request.

"As a general rule, we don't allow private organizations to use public facilities to support their private members," Cary's Town Manager Bill Coleman said.

At first, the money was to go to members of the union in affected states.

Hiscock then revised the plan to include all emergency personnel.

Town leaders said they were still uncomfortable that the unions in those states would be distributing the money.

"We were obviously disappointed and left it at that," Hiscock said.

But David R. Anders, the president of the state chapter of the firefighters association, did not.

In a Letter to the Editor in Wednesday's

News and Observer

, Anders, who lives in Asheville, called Cary cold-hearted.

"He felt that it was something that should be above a union activity and looked at as an activity of people helping people," Hiscock said.

Coleman said if there was some guarantee the fund-raising would have helped people other than union members, the town's "decision could have been a lot different," he said.

The local chapters in Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill are participating in the fund-raising efforts, which is different than some in the past.

After September 11, firefighters had a boot campaign. But, they did not use public facilities to raise money; they asked for donations on street corners.