Every year, local fire fighter organizations conduct a campaign, “Fill the Boot,” which involves fire fighters standing at intersections and medians and soliciting drivers for funds. Despite the worthy cause—as much as $25 million is raised for organizations such as the Muscular Dystrophy Association per year–many towns, including Oklahoma City, are starting to raise safety concerns about the method.
Almost 50% of all Oklahoma City traffic accidents occurred at an intersection in the last five-year period. Although no “Fill the Boot” volunteers have been injured in Oklahoma City, a citizen campaign caused Councilwoman Meg Salyer to suggest a ban on traffic-adjacent drives such as “Fill the Boot.” If enacted, it will join existing bans in South Carolina, Wisconsin, and several localities throughout the nation. The bans are arising because of fears for both fire fighter and traffic safety. According to firefighternation.com, a fire fighter, Dennis Rodeman, 35, was killed in Michigan during “Fill the Boot.” The driver, who allegedly hit the victim deliberately, has been charged with murder.
While government officials are concerned with safety, fire fighter organizations are concerned with a decline in donations if bans are enacted widely. A Fire Department in Charleston, S.C., for example, saw “Save the Boot” donations drop over 50% when they moved to a mall parking lot from the road. They also argue that fire fighters are trained in safety and able to move safely at intersections.
Councilwoman Salyer, on the other hand, focuses on the site as inherently dangerous. “If the Girl Scouts chose using medians as their business model to sell cookies,” she says, “the community would likely be in an uproar. This is a dangerous place people are doing business.”