The mayor stood by his decision to ban firefighters in Bristol from wearing pink shirts to raise awareness for breast cancer at a city council meeting Tuesday night.
Mayor Art Ward is not allowing firefighters to wear the shirts that benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation. The firefighters had wanted to wear the shirts every Thursday while at work.
Some said the decision is being made because of political tension.
"It hasn't been stellar since Mayor Ward got into office," said Fire Lt. David Butkus.
He added that he does not feel the T-shirt issue is politically motivated and the two sides do not have a good relationship.
Ward said he is encouraging the Fire Union to support the issue in other ways, but said he believes this has become less about breast cancer and more about his relationship with the union.
"I think it's a shame, I don't see anything wrong with it. They should be able to," said Tracy Ammerman of Bristol. "I think it's a good thing."
Some Bristol residents support the firefighters' ability to wear the shirts.
"I have two aunts that are survivors of breast cancer. Our firefighters are heroes not only at a time of need with the fires but all around," said Stephanie LaForge of Bristol. "I think anybody who is against supporting breast cancer, really needs to take a look at what's important."
The meeting occurred inside city hall Tuesday night. Even though the topic was not on the agenda, some residents brought up the shirts during public comment and the discussion became emotional at times.
Surprisingly, the controversy has helped T-shirts sales and more than 400 have been sold with orders for 250 more. The original goal was to sell more than 100 shirts, firefighters said.
Thousands of firefighters across the county will be wearing the shirts this month while on the job. However, in Bristol firefighters can only wear them when they are off the clock.
"The NFL allows it too, college football, everywhere," Butkus said. "You see it all over the place but not here in Bristol."
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