Firefighters have been forced to return the free vacation tickets they received from Ellen on her show. Only a day after appearing on her talk show, the fire department made it clear the free trips to the Caribbean violated the state rules, and the four firefighters were not allowed to accept them.
Ellen Degeneres honored four firefighters who saved a dog from a frozen river with free tickets to the Caribbean, according to Boston.com. However, their fire chief has forced them to ship back the free tickets because it is against the rules for them to accept such a large gift. The four firefighters were still thankful for the attention they received on her show, but they simply could not risk losing their jobs over a vacation.
The heartwarming story of four firefighters risking their own lives to get a golden retriever out of a river in Massachusetts captured the attention of the media and Ellen. After inviting them to her show, she gave them several gifts including the free tickets for a warm trip. Although the firefighters are allowed to keep the decorative life jackets they got on the show, they sent back the tickets.
Under state law, firefighters cannot accept gifts that are valued at more than $50. Fire Chief Richard DeLorie was so worried about the expensive free trips that he had the firefighters FedEx the tickets back to her show to make sure there was a paper trail. Although the gifts were simply given as a thank you for their hard work, state law does not differentiate between presents of high value.
Despite the state rules that also indicate free travel to an event cannot be provided, the fire department has no plans to pay back the free air tickets the firefighters used to get to the Ellen Show. The department is allowing this because it meets certain criteria that are more lenient. Since the four firefighters were on the show to promote a public service message, they will not have to pay back their tickets.
The firefighters may have wanted to keep their free trips to the Caribbean, but they were not willing to risk their careers for one vacation. Although the state laws may seem strict, they were created to stop bribes. In this case, they may seem to go too far, but there are no exceptions that would allow them to keep their trips.