Boise & Garden City

Boise fire chief asks union to remove pro-Bieter ad over improper use of logo

An exterior shot of City Hall West on Mark Stall Place, where the Boise Fire Department is housed.
An exterior shot of City Hall West on Mark Stall Place, where the Boise Fire Department is housed. Hayley Harding

Boise Fire Chief Dennis Doan has asked Boise Fire Fighters Local 149, the union representing Boise firefighters, to remove an ad supporting Mayor David Bieter in the November election after the ads improperly used the Boise Fire Department logos.

“The ad featuring our fire fighters in uniform and using our logo is a violation of the regulation on employee political activity,” Doan said in an emailed statement.

Doan said he sent a detailed memo to all employees of the department in June about the regulations. He said he also warned the union before filming the ad about the city regulations on political activity.

Char Jackson, spokeswoman for the fire department, declined to share the memo with the Idaho Statesman, saying it was protected by attorney-client privilege because it was originally from the city attorney’s office. She confirmed it was sent June 18.

According to the city of Boise’s employee handbook, city employees cannot “engage in political activities as our representative or while on duty unless it is part of your job duties, it forwards one of our initiatives, and you have approval from your department director.” People can privately support candidates and legislative action outside of work hours.

Jackson said Doan’s email specifically listed that as well as advocacy while on the clock. Employees were told they could wear clothing with union insignia while advocating for candidates or ballot measures, but nothing with city logos or uniforms.

Doan, who himself has endorsed Bieter, asked the union to take down the ad until it could be properly edited to take out the logo.

Robert West, Bieter’s campaign manager, said the campaign encouraged the union to follow policies of the city and edit the ad to comply with what the department asked it to do. “We encourage them to change it if it needs to happen, and it does need to happen,” said West, who said the ad ran for the first time Tuesday but that he saw it for the first time Wednesday.

He said the Bieter campaign has not used money or resources for the ad and was not involved in its creation.

The union was not immediately available for comment.

Doan’s request was first reported by KBOI-TV.

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Hayley covers local government for the Idaho Statesman with a primary focus on Boise. Previously, she worked for the Salisbury Daily Times, the Hartford Courant, the Denver Post and McClatchy’s D.C. bureau. Hayley graduated from Ohio University with degrees in journalism and political science.If you like seeing stories like this, please consider supporting our work with a digital subscription to the Idaho Statesman.