Do firefighters or taxpayers pay for firefighter grub?


Published: Sunday, January 21, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, January 20, 2007 at 11:57 p.m.

When Robert J. Marsh goes grocery shopping at the Publix on NW 13th Street and NW 39th Avenue, he usually sees area firefighters grocery shopping.

Some days, Marsh said he's seen firefighters buy a lot of food and other times it appears they're on a quick meal run.

Marsh has always wondered: Who picks up the tab?

So Marsh wrote to Since You Asked to find out the answer to that very question.

"I was talking to my brother about it and we have always wondered if they paid for their own food or if the department has a budget," Marsh said. "It's always struck me as odd."

Since curious minds want to know, The Sun asked representatives of Gainesville Fire Rescue and Alachua County Fire Rescue what the agencies' policies are on firefighters purchasing food.

The answer?

"The firefighters are responsible for their own meals," said GFR spokeswoman Krista Ott. "They also have bulk groceries. These are staples like bread, milk, condiments, that they each contribute $1.50 to buy the bulk items at each station."

Some firefighters will even bring in home-cooked meals to share with other firefighters or they'll all eat out together, Ott said.

Sometimes, firefighters will have a slightly heartier meal, like steak and potatoes, and other times they may have soup and sandwiches — depending on what they're in the mood for, Ott said.

ACFR spokeswoman Megan Crandall said the same pay-for-yourself policy goes for county firefighters.

"The taxpayers don't foot the bill for their food," Crandall said. "Every shift and every station is different. It depends on the people working and what kind of food they want to eat. Some stations cook more than others, but regardless, it all comes out of their own pockets."

Deborah Ball can be reached at (352) 338-3109 or balld@gvillesun.com

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