The caveat: Those shirts cannot include the logo of the firefighters' union, as the shirts have during the past four years.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that a crowd of angry residents showed up at the Monarch meeting Tuesday evening in protest of the ruling last month, in which board members Jane Cunningham and Robin Harris nixed the pink T-shirts. At the time, they cited the possibility of public confusion over who is actually a firefighter, because the shirts could be sold to members of the public.
Harris was quoted in the Post-Dispatch saying firefighters should have gotten advanced approval from the board before implementing what was effectively a change of uniform.
“Any design change for on-duty wear must be board-approved or the floodgates would be opened allowing any pink shirt to be worn during October,” the newspaper quoted Harris.
KMOX radio reported that community members said the Monarch board was using the issue as a political wedge against the firefighters' union. The station reported that Harris instructed the department to make sure T-shirts worn by the firefighters included clear differentiation from those that could be sold to the public.
In statement released Wednesday afternoon, District Chief Tom Vineyard said Monarch personnel would have an official Monarch I.D. attached to the collar of their pink T-shirts.
The Chesterfield-based fire protection district also serves parts of Ballwin, Clarkson Valley, Creve Coeur, Maryland Heights and Wildwood, as well as unincorporated St. Louis County. Thenewspaper said Monarch firefighters have raised more than $6,000 and have donated it to local charities.
Here's the full statement released this afternoon from the Monarch Fire Protection District human resources department:
Controversy Ends: Monarch Board Approves Pink T-Shirts for On-Duty Firefighters
At its open Board Meeting last night, Monarch Fire Protection Board Directors Robin Harris and Jane Cunningham approved the wearing of pink T-Shirts for cancer awareness by on-duty staff. They reiterated their support for the Pink Heals breast cancer cause and their encouragement of firefighter volunteer fundraising for the philanthropy. Director Steve Swyers was absent from the meeting.
"Tonight, upon approval of the Pink Heals project allowing Monarch firefighters to wear pink T-shirts, I directed the Chief to protect the safety and security of the public by identifying our officers on the approved apparel,” explained Board President Robin Harris. Since the T-shirts are being sold to the general public, residents in the district need to be able to easily distinguish between a Monarch firefighter and someone who may be trying to impersonate them to gain entrance to a home.
"Had the union not circumvented the board by taking their information and request to the media rather than to the Monarch Board, all this confusion would have been easily avoided," emphasized Director Jane Cunningham. "It appeared to be staged to put the Monarch District in an undeserved negative light," Cunningham continued.
"Local 2665 and the Pink Heals organization will need to come to their own agreement outside of the Board process over the union logo violation of the Pink Heals brand design as specified on their website," continued Harris.
Pink Heals emphasizes it "is not a Democrat, Republican or Union movement" and therefore requires organizations to honor their brand with no alterations. As stated on the Pink Heals website, "Please don't change our brand or message! We believe in the eyes of the community it will look self-serving" rather than focusing on the cause.
Director Harris and Chief Vineyard have derived a solution and expect the pink shirts for on-duty firefighters to be seen as early as today. We want the public to be aware that any on duty Monarch personnel wearing a Pink Heals shirt will have an official Monarch I.D. attached to their collar.