The city of St. Catharines, Ont. has told firefighters who plan to pose for the yearly “Combat Team” calendar there is to be no “undressing.”
On Wednesday, the city revealed a decision that says municipal “resources” can no longer be used in the creation and promotion of the St. Catharines Fire Combat Team (SCFD) charity calendar if firefighters are partially undressed.
“The City would like to emphasize this decision is not about charity, it’s about respect and dignity in the workplace and workplace culture,” said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer David Oakes in a statement.
“As a corporation, the City continues to evolve and to re-evaluate policies and procedures to ensure they support efforts to be an inclusive workplace where employees and citizens have the dignity and respect they deserve.”
The calendar, which is going into its fifth year of publication, has been used as a fundraising tool for a number of local charities like PC Children’s Charity, the children’s ward at St. Catharines hospital and Pathstone Mental Health.
The promotion typically featured a number of the Combat Team members pictured with their shirts off around trucks, hoses and other city-owned fire gear. The calendars usually run for about $10 each and have been available through a number of city retailers.
The city’s decision has been met with some resistance from residents with some taking the time to post comments on the Combat Team’s Facebook page:
“Firefighters volunteering their time and $18,000.00 in charity funds raised by taking your shirt off is wrong?” said one commenter.
“Whoever complained or was offended by this calendar should be ashamed of themselves. These calendars have always been done in a tasteful and dignified manner and have raised a lot of money for charity. What next St. Catharines?” said another.
Fire Chief Jeff McCormick says the move doesn’t mean the end of the calendar and it’s charity drive.
“This decision does not mean the St. Catharines Combat Team can no longer create a calendar,” said McCormick.
“It means the City will not allow the use of City resources, equipment, uniforms, logos to be used in the production of the calendar in its current format. We remain hopeful, however, that this annual fundraiser can be re-envisioned in a manner that Fire Services and the City can support.”