The San Diego Fire Department is expected, in the next 24 hours, to release a new policy on firefighter participation in parades, the president of the local firefighters’ union just told me.
Ron Saathoff, president of Local 145, said the union has been working with the Fire Department to revise department policy after a group of firefighters complained that they were ordered to take part in the San Diego Pride Parade last month against their will.
The firefighters also said that they had been subjected to obscene conduct and language while taking part in the parade. They have brought on attorney Charles LiMandri of the Thomas More Law Center, a nonprofit law firm “dedicated to the defense and promotion of the religious freedom of Christians, time-honored family values, and the sanctity of human life” to represent them.
The firefighters haven’t yet sued the department, but have filed a “notice right to sue,” that leaves the door open for them to sue later.
At the heart of the firefighters’ complaint is the claim that they were ordered to take part in the parade against their will.
“That’s what makes this especially egregious,” said Bryan Rooney, Thomas More Law Center spokesman. LiMandri is on vacation and was not available to comment.
Saathoff said his union has worked with the department to formulate a new policy that would ensure Fire Department participants in parades are always volunteers. He said that’s similar to the Police Department’s approach.
Fire Chief Tracy Jarman has issued a formal apology to the firefighters.
Saathoff said that until this year he did not know of a single complaint filed with the Fire Department regarding the Pride Parade, though the department has been involved in the festivities for 15 years.
“We’re dedicated to serving the public and that means all the public,” he said.