Our Nation's Firefighters have been denied a spot in the 2013 Savannah St. Patrick's Day Parade. Organizers are citing instances of drinking before and during the parade last year despite numerous warnings.
On Monday night, parade organizers held a news conference to address the situation, which has become a hot topic in the community.
Parade committee members say FDNY firefighters can submit an application but the parade is full at this time. Organizers say based on this controversy, they may make an exception but they are making no promises.
Over the weekend, Jim Grismer, organizer of Our Nation's Firefighters, was denied entry into the St. Patrick's Day Parade because of numerous warnings of drinking before and during the parade last year.
"The firefighters were noted to be drinking before the parade, which must certainly shock people that somebody may be drinking before the parade," said Grismer. "The second thing was that the men were drinking in the line of march. That is untrue. This is closely monitored because of an incident in 2007."
That is when the New York firefighters were booted from the parade under similar circumstances.
Brendan Sheehan, general chairman of this years parade, says they warned Grismer about issues with firefighter behavior during the parade, specifically drinking alcohol.
"We have gone over several times with Mr. Grismer about the alcohol issues in the parade," said Sheehan. "He said he has talked to to our AD's in the past and said I am trying to control them, but I can't control them all.'"
The group called Our Nation's Firefighters is comprised of firefighters from all over the country, including New York City, and Ireland. Grismer says if drinking happened during the parade last year, it wasn't the firefighters from his group and now it's too late to file an appeal.
"It feels hypocritical and vindictive for timing," said Grismer. "Many have flight and hotel reservations. I told them to come and enjoy the hospitality."
"They are welcome to contact the Savannah Fire Department," said Sheehan. "We have approved them. We have other firefighters from all over the world. We have over 300 units that conform to the guidelines of the parade."
Sheehan says none of the New York fire departments applied to be in the parade, but they have contacted the FDNY. Sheehan says they are not at liberty to discuss any applications but the parade right now is full.
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