Each year the Florianville volunteer fire department hosts a pancake breakfast on Palm Sunday. For the FVFD this fundraiser is their largest and most important event each year. Yesterday though that event was cut short because they had failed to get a city health and resale certificate.
According to Police Department spokesperson Captain Murphy, multiple members of the FVFD were warned they needed to get all permits in the weeks leading up to this weekend.
Last summer the Florianville city council established a city health department. Citizens were concerned how the state health department only seems to inspect restaurants once ever three years. By having a city operated heath inspector, businesses are now inspected yearly.
In addition to full time restaurants, the city health department has oversight of food stands/food trucks that may only operate on temporary or limited basis.
“Our citizens were concerned about health safety after an number of food poisoning incidents at various establishments last year. So a city health department was established.” Captain Murphy explains how the FVFD had an opportunity to comply with the new law. “I personally took an application to the fire chief. He did not seem concerned, and even claimed the new law did not apply to his breakfast.”
City Attorney Getz agrees with the police department. “The statute says ‘any business, organization or individual person, who is likely to serve food or beverage to approximately twenty or more persons in a single day shall be required to get a permit…’ We made sure to put that wording in there to ensure kids could still have lemonade stands, while also ensuring larger groups such as the FD follow the law.”
According to city hall the permit is only $75. Before the permit is issued a city inspector does have to perform an inspection of the location any food is being cooked. If an application is received requiring a weekend inspection, the inspector does plan his schedule accordingly. No application was received from the Fire Chief, so no inspection was planned.
Captain Murphy explained his officers did not take the initiative to shut down the fundraiser. Multiple business owners complained they were at the breakfast and did not see a health certificate. Some called into the police department, but many called into the mayor’s cell phone. The Mayor, after consulting with the City Attorney by phone, gave the order to shut down the pancake breakfast.
Fire Chief Tom Wyler tells us Palm Sunday has been the pancake fundraiser for decades. Families stop in droves to donate money to the FVFD and then enjoy some pancakes.
“That law does not apply to us. We are not selling to people. The Fire Department accepts donations from the people who wish to enjoy some pancakes made by our firefighters. They shut us down after being open only one hour, for no reason. I don’t know what we will do now. Our volunteers were counting on funds from this breakfast to get some much needed new gear.”
When asked about sales versus donations, Attorney Getz pointed out “The law talks about serving food. Based on the wording it does not matter the how the monies are exchanged, it only matters that food is being given to the public for consumption.”
No word on as to if the fundraiser will be rescheduled for a future date.