Committee supports fire-truck wedding photos

Finance Committee stands by tradition that had been questioned by village trustee
Ozaukee Press staff

Following a Grafton Village Board meeting last month in which trustees argued over the longtime custom of allowing volunteer firefighters to take wedding photos with the fire department’s trucks, the Finance Committee decided Monday that it will keep the tradition  alive. 

“Why are we trying to fix something that isn’t broken?” asked Trustee Lisa Uribe Harbeck, a committee member who supports the photo tradition.

“Why are we going through all this trouble for one or two weddings a year?”

The controversy arose after a Facebook poll asked taxpayers if they are concerned about fire trucks being pulled out of the station for department members to take photos for less than 30 minutes.

Out of the 301 responses, 95% said they didn’t mind the fire trucks being used for photos and 5% said they did.

Questions arose shortly after Trustee David Liss was married Dec. 31. Liss and his wife are members of the department and had wedding photos taken outside the station as they stood on a ladder truck. 

According to local officials, Trustee Sue Meinecke asked Village Administrator Jesse Thyes to discontinue the practice. However, Meinecke has since clarified her request.

“At no time did I ever request a policy change to the volunteer firefighter use of trucks for wedding pictures,” Meinecke said at a Public Safety Committee meeting Feb. 21.

“I did share resident questions with Administrator Thyes regarding this practice in the context of making sure the village insurance policy covers our people and equipment in case anything happens while not involved in an active emergency.

“These accusations are based on hearsay, speculation and personal vendettas … This is simply a smear campaign.”

Neighboring municipalities, such as Cedarburg and Port Washington, have a similar practice of allowing firefighters to take wedding photos using fire trucks. 

Thyes said he will work with Fire Chief Bill Rice to establish guidelines to provide more control of the practice. Thyes said that in order for department vehicles to be used for private photos, a volunteer must receive prior permission from the chief, and the vehicle must be ready to respond to a call and cannot leave the village’s municipal boundaries for photos.

Any risk is assumed by the fire department employee, and liability waivers must be obtained for non-employees participating in the photos.

During the Feb. 19 Village Board meeting, Harbeck requested the issue be put on the agenda for the March 5 board meeting. However, the issue was not placed as a board agenda item because it was a departmental and personnel matter, according to Thyes.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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