JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It’s a fiery show typically filled with lots of local firefighters, but not this year.
"We did ask the firefighters here in Jacksonville to come be a part of the show, but I guess they didn't have enough staff,” said Elisa Jernigan, show manager for the Southern Women’s Show.
Not enough staff or too much apprehension among staff members after racy photos from a firefighter fundraiser at Whisky River were leaked back in August. The risque shots resulted in disciplinary action for six off-duty Jacksonville firefighters.
Now, Action News has learned because of the ordeal the Southern Women’s Show has to outsource firefighters from Tallahassee and Savannah, Ga., for the “Firefighter Fashion Shows” on Friday and Saturday.
"We had a difficult time finding brothers and sisters to be a part of it due to I think their apprehension of some of the stuff that's obviously happened in the past,” said Randy Wyse, President of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters.
Wyse says it’s disappointing it has come to this. He notes the event is done on firefighters' off-time while they’re not wearing city-issued gear.
"It’s disheartening to say that no matter what you do on your off-day you have to get permission to do it,” said Wyse.
For the last several years, the Southern Women’s Show has been a huge fundraising opportunity for local firefighters. According to union reps, they typically raise around $2,500 a night at the event.
"It's disappointing, but we'll get through it. We'll move forward."
Local firefighters will still be manning a booth at the Southern Women’s Show. They’ll be selling t-shirts to raise money for breast cancer research.
The Southern Women’s Show will run from Thursday through Sunday at the Prime Osborn Convention Center. The “Firefighter Fashion Shows” will be held on Friday and Saturday. The money raised will go toward the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation and Camp Amigo.