Belton firefighters get restraining order against city

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BELTON, Mo. -- The Belton Firefighters said the fight is on against the city of Belton and its leaders. This comes after the city's decision not to allow on-duty firefighters to participate in the Muscular Dystrophy Association's "Fill the Boot" campaign that collects money over Labor Day weekend.

The Belton Firefighters may be able to collect your money while on-duty after all. A judge has granted the department a restraining order against the city that lasts through the end of the month, which allows them to collect funds on Friday the 30th and Saturday the 31st of Labor Day weekend.

While the fundraiser has been a tradition for firefighters across the nation for more than 50 years, this year the city of Belton, citing a 1968 opinion by the Missouri Attorney General, said "boot blocking", as its called, for a private charity while on-duty, is against the law.
It's an opinion and decision the firefighters, the firefighters union and even one city official don't agree with.

"What's the difference of having them there on the street corner or sitting in the fire department watching TV? asked Belton City Council Member Albert Hoag Sr.

"For that to be stopped, I think its very sad. I don't think I'm owed anything to do that, its just part of what we do as a fireman," said Belton Fire Captain and Belton Union Representative, Steve Kratofil.

With a temporary restraining order in hand, the Local 42 Union said on-duty fire crews will be out come Labor Day weekend, doing what they love to do.

"We just want to come in and do our jobs as fireman. We want to help our kids and thats what we're asking," Kratofil said.

"If you got one kid that benefits from it, it benefits the citizens of Belton," said Hoag.

While the Belton Mayor and other council members didn't return our calls for comment, they may speak up come Monday at a court hearing on the matter. Meanwhile, Hoag said whatever the court decides, it could have big implications state wide.

"You know the ramifications that can come from something like this because of the fact if the city wins this one then nobody in the state of Missouri legally can do it because of some so-called law," Hoag said.

Belton Firefighters said the issue goes beyond their rights, they said its about pride in their city. Per capita, Belton raises more money for the MDA than any other city in the metro.

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