If you dropped money in a firefighter’s boot at 12th and Zang last month, you helped Oak Cliff’s Fire Station No. 15 collect “$46,200 and some change,” according to B-shift captain Brent Wise.
More than $46,000. In three days. In boot change. That’s impressive.
It’s a figure that beat out all of the other fire stations in Dallas, and may have made the “fifteens,” as they call themselves, the no.1 overall collectors for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Wise says.
So what have they won?
“You don’t win anything for being the most, per se,” Wise says, “but it’s definitely some pretty high cotton braggin’ rights.”
Wise says Fill the Boot competition “got in my blood” during his years at station no. 17 in East Dallas, where he started as a rookie.
“It had been no. 1 for 10, maybe 20 years,” he says. “So a few years back,” after leaving East Dallas for Oak Cliff, “I decided to give them a run for their money.”
Last year, Fire Station No. 15 topped won the citywide competition by $26. This year, it was “indisputably the king,” Wise says.
The fifteens spent several hundred dollars of their own money buying supplies to put signs up for the campaign, and each fire fighter, who normally works a one-day shift every three days, spent the entire three-day campaign working the corners of 12th and Zang, and Colorado and Beckley. (If an emergency call came in, a third of them jumped on the truck to respond.)
The fifteens also were asked by MDA to cover some high-traffic “hotspots” in North Dallas, such as Northwest Highway and Preston, near smaller stations that lacked the manpower.
“I’m not going to step on other members toes, but if you want to ask, hey — it all goes into the same MDA pot anyway,” Wise says.
Don’t misunderstand — it’s not about the kids, Wise says, somewhat tongue in cheek.
“Last year, I was invited to speak at a regional MDA meeting, and they asked me, ‘What are the secrets? How do you motivate your guys? Do you tell them it’s for the kids?’
“I said, there’s kids involved here?” Wise chuckles. “It really is the fireman’s nature. We just want to beat our fellow brethren.”