RANCHO SANTA MARGARITA, Calif. — A T-shirt designed by firefighters to raise funds for a memorial was intended to express pride in their own team. But now it’s being criticized as insensitive.
The T-shirt shows Fire Engine 45 surrounded by figures with baggy clothing, a pit bull, a tamale stand, with a caption that reads: “There goes the neighborhood,” with “Rancho Santa Ana” written on top. The controversial T-shirt was designed by off-duty firefighters with Orange County Fire Authority Station 45 in Rancho Santa Margarita. Officials say half of the nearly 30 firefighters came from Santa Ana after OCFA took over Santa Ana’s fire services.
“No city wants their image portrayed in a negative light,” said Jose Gonzalez, a spokesman for the city of Santa Ana. OCFA says 60 shirts were made, and a handful were sold among firefighters. The money went to a fund honoring engineer Greg Hennessey who died on duty. His memorial service was held Tuesday. That’s why officials said they could not appear on camera. In a statement, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Keith Richter says he apologizes for what he calls “an insensitive act,” and is disappointed in the firefighters’ actions.