I definitely have to chalk the story on PETA's original proposal in the "say what?" category.
Obviously, the bigger issue here is that many fire departments are experiencing severe difficulty maintaining basic service levels during the continued economic recession.
In this type of fiscal environment, there's a lot of pressure to innovate and develop new revenue streams.
From billing for traditionally free services, to cellular towers on fire station property, and even selling advertising space, I'll bet many fire departments are trying new things to make ends meet.
Why? Because as a fire service, we take ownership in what we do, even (especially) when times are tight.
It's also clear that many of these potential revenue sources have implications in the broader public policy realm.
Fire departments are often sought for endorsements because of the trust we are honored with by our communities. That trust is important; and it's worth something.
Now I'm not saying fire departments should or shouldn't, implicitly or explicitly, endorse products or organizations.
It's not that simple, especially when the choice is between revenue and service provision.
The question is: What's the value of your department's brand? Economically speaking, we should be able to assign a price; but it's hard to place a dollar value on trust.