Thursday, November 24, 2011

Complaint By Lawyer Shuts Down Orem Firefighters' Fill The Boot Campaign For Comatose Firefighter Mike Stentzle

An out-of-season Fill The Boot campaign by firefighters in Orem, Utah to raise money for one of their fellow firefighters, Mike Stentzle, has been stopped as a result of a complaint filed by an unnamed lawyer. While KSL has a current story and previously reported on this issue back on November 14th, 2011, much more information has been gleaned from the Limited Playmakers website.

The story actually began on November 2nd, when Stentzle, a veteran of five years service with the Orem Fire Department and 15 years total service in the profession, suffered an intracranial hemorrhagic stroke during a required semi-annual firefighter fitness test. Although his fellow firefighters immediately rendered first aid and rushed him to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center where he underwent 2-1/2 hours of surgery, Stentzle remains in a coma and is currently in the ICU receiving continuous care. Complicating the issue is the fact that Stentzle's wife is currently seven months pregnant with their first child.

Further complicating the issue is the fact that the Workers Compensation Fund of Utah reportedly doesn't want to pay Stentzle's medical bills even though the incident happened on the job and is specifically job-related. They claim the stroke was a pre-existing condition. So even though Stentzels' insurance will cover a small portion of the bill, additional medical expenses are likely to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. Consequently, the firefighters decided to launch an out-of-season Fill The Boot campaign to raise money for the Stentzel family. They normally hold a Fill The Boot campaign for muscular dystrophy each August when they will stand on street corners and invite the public to deposit contributions into firefighters' boots.

But according to Limited Playmakers, some unidentified lawyer apparently got upset over being solicited on a street corner. The lawyer threatened to sue the City of Orem, the City Manager, and the Fire Chief under the pretext that the firefighters were violating Orem’s panhandling laws by collecting money in this manner. So the city politicos caved in and stopped the campaign. Limited Playmakers knows the identity of the lawyer and will publish it if the lawyer persists in trying to shut this campaign down.

Those who want to contribute to the fund for Mike Stentzle can visit the dedicated website and donate online, or else visit any branch of Zion's Bank.

Public Reaction: A few people object to the Fill The Boot campaign because they claim the firefighters are creating a traffic hazard. This concern is unfounded; firefighters are constantly indoctrinated in safety. A couple of others commend Orem for applying the ordinance equally to all panhandlers, which puts firefighters who risk their lives and contribute to the community on the same level as a homeless panhandler who contributes nothing to the community. This attitude elevates and enshrines the lowest common denominator as the norm.

Fortunately, the vast majority of commenters to KSL are supportive of the firefighters.

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