BALA - The fire chief for the District of Muskoka is investigating why a fire truck was used to promote a local business in the Bala Santa Claus Parade.
Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes said he did not know a fire truck was being used to advertise a local business in the Bala Santa Claus parade. The fire department does not endorse local businesses in parades.
On Saturday, Nov. 17 there were several fire trucks in the parade, one of them drove behind the counsellors as they walked down the street, the other had a sign promoting a local restaurant hanging on its side.
The Hook and Ladder is a restaurant in Bala themed as a fire station with an antique fire pump on the outside of the building, a menu that reflects firefighter fare, displays of badges from around the world and firefighter paraphernalia on its walls.
Muskoka Lakes Fire Chief Richard Hayes said he was surprised when he heard that a fire truck had been used to support a local business.
“It’s not something that we do as a township or a fire department; otherwise, we have to make room for everybody’s business on there,” Hayes said.
During the parade Nicole Richard, owner of Hook and Ladder, and two staff walked beside the fire truck with the Hook and Ladder banner giving candy to children while two firefighters drove the truck.
Richard said the restaurant is frequented by many firefighters and she strives to promote fire safety, hands out fire safety booklets to children, and works with the fire department in every way she can.
She said using the fire truck in the parade was a last-minute idea she worked out with the firefighters about a week before the parade when her original idea of using a small trailer didn’t work out.
“It was a matter of finding a spot to put my sign and if I would’ve known in any way shape or form this would have created any kind of heat within the local fire department I obviously would never, ever have even thought of that. I’m here to help these people,” she said.
Richard expressed her shock that the sign had become an issue and said she had no idea it wouldn’t be supported by the fire department since they have worked together so much.
The district fire chief is currently looking into the situation and will give a report to Hayes.
“It is something that’s not condoned and that’s certainly not happening in the future,” Hayes said. “It kind of took me by surprise when I heard about it too.”