Literally. The banner that says so that is in front of Station 17 at Skillman and Belmont went up just a couple of weeks ago, but it confirms what the fire fighters have known for months. They’re the best fund-raisers in the city –– again -– in the fire department’s annual Fill the Boot for Muscular Dystrophy drive. That’s when fire fighters stand on street corners asking for money, boots in hand.

Station 17’s efforts netted $18,000 this year; the total was $240,000 city wide. They regularly post the best totals in the city, and in 2001 raised more money than any fire house in the country.

The reason for their continued success? It’s simple, says Brandon Varker, who oversees the station’s efforts. “It’s the people in this area. They’re so giving and so generous,” he explains. He also wanted to thank the mayor and city council, who changed the city’s panhandling ordinance this year to allow the fire fighters to get back on the streets.

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