ELYRIA — Elyria firefighters say they’ll offer free blood-pressure screenings at the Elyria Apple Festival later this month, where they’ll also staff a booth and distribute political and informational paraphernalia.
And they probably won’t have to test their own blood pressure, or the mayor’s, to find out it’s running a little high these days.
Elyria firefighters and Mayor Bill Grace have come to loggerheads in recent weeks after Grace cut minimum station staffing levels in the fire department from 17 to 14, resulting in sporadic shutdowns at one of four Elyria fire stations.
Festival organizers say the firefighters are a welcome addition to the festival as long as they don’t picket or approach people.
“They can’t go out and attack people who are walking by,” said Linda Brown, an Apple Festival committee member. “They can hand out brochures to people who walk over to their table.”
Fine by the firefighters.
“We just want to keep people aware that the station is closed,” said Dave Street, president of the Elyria Fire Fighters union. “There may be some fliers, but we’re not going to picket or anything like that.”
Brown said festival organizers believe the firefighters are well-intentioned.
“They have to meet our standards and follow all rules, so I don’t see any problems with it at all,” Brown said. “They follow the same basic rules everybody has to follow — we already discussed it — I’m sure there will be a booth available to them.”
Brown said the festival prohibits soliciting — including picketing — so any picketing by the public will be passed to police. Street said he created a new Web site as a post-board of sorts for information — www.elyriafirefighters.com.
Contact Shawn Foucher at 653-6255 or firstname.lastname@example.org.