Firefighters Feeling the Burn Over Cartoon

FEBRUARY 21, 2007 -- POSTED AT 9:30 P.M. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- It's an editorial cartoon that's created more than just a few laughs. It's caused some heat at the Jonesboro Fire Department.

On page 4 of The Sun, you open up to a cartoon on their opinion page; a cartoon that clearly reads 'Jonesboro Fire Department' and depicts 4 firefighters lounging around, napping and playing cards. Through the window in the cartoon, you see a man mowing their lawn.

"I laughed because it did probably what they meant for it to do, create controversy," says Chief Aaron Keller of the Jonesboro Fire Department.

Chief Keller says several of the guys were upset that the cartoon would portray them in such a light. He says yes, we do have down time, but that time relaxing is a must in their line of work.

"They're here for 24 hours so yea they're going to have to have some downtime, because they may be up all night. The guys know what we do around here. Sure, some people, we have downtime and we might play some cards or watch T.V. a little bit, but we've made 200 and some odd runs so far this year and we made 8 yesterday," says Chief Keller.

One of the fires from Tuesday was the fatal house fire in North Jonesboro. Chief Keller says they found it ironic that on the front page of the same paper that included the cartoon, there is a picture of Jonesboro firefighters hard at work.

"You can look at the front page and tell that's not what we're doing. We'd a lot rather be playing cards than doing that, I guarantee you and so would that family," says Chief Keller.

We contacted The Sun to get their reasoning behind printing the cartoon. Sun Publisher David Mosesso gave us this statement:

"Today's Sun cartoon was intended to show our readers that the recent decision by our city council to fund the lawn maintenance of our fire stations was not in the taxpayer's best interest. The Sun has always supported our firefighters and their needs and will continue to do so in the future.  An editorial cartoon, by its nature, is an exaggeration, and it is necessary to provide visual elements that make the point to the reader. Therefore, the scene was set in a fire station. Our cartoon poked fun at the decision, not at the firefighters."

We asked Chief Keller about the city's decision and his thoughts on the lawn service.

"The council thought that we needed more time. It gives us more time to train, more time to do our jobs," adds Keller.