Citing Safety Regulations, Officials Ban Santa From Traditional Spot Atop Fire Truck

Tuesday, 04 Dec 2012 09:57 AM

By Mark Holthaus

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Having clambered across rooftops and down chimneys of most of the world’s fireplaces you’d think Santa would know more about that sort of thing than, well, a fireman.

But to some regulation-happy fire department brass in Hampton, N.H., he’s just a rookie, not smart enough to ride on the outside of a fire truck, even though he soars through the sky in an old-fashioned sleigh.

That’s why when the annual Christmas parade was supposed to step off on Saturday in Hampton, fire officials said Santa and Mrs. Claus couldn’t be perched in their usual spot atop a fire department ladder truck but instead wanted them to be safely tucked inside, wearing seatbelts.

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Fire officials decided the jolly old couple had to ride inside the fire truck after Hampton Deputy Fire Chief Jamie Ayotte went to Chief Chris Silver with concerns that allowing Santa and Mrs. Claus to ride outside the truck would violate the National Fire Protection Association’s “guideline 1500,” along with the department's safety and liability regulations.

"I certainly did not mean to hit the wasp’s nest with a stick here," Ayotte told Hampton-North Hampton Patch. "I just wanted to make sure everybody was safe."

Noting that firefighters — including Santa actors riding in parades — have died after falling off a ladder trucks, Ayotte said the policies dictated by the National Fire Protection Association prohibits individuals from riding outside of the apparatus because there are no seatbelts there.

After the decision was made to enforce the Claus clause of guideline 1500 several people took to Patch to post their frustration.

“I just don't see what the big deal is, why does everyone feel that they have to change something to make (themselves) known. It's been (happening) this way in Hampton for a long time and every year Santa has been fine. Put him on the truck,” one person wrote.

"When is a fire truck not a fire truck? We actually have safety regulations for vehicles when not in service? Did the regulations have Santa in mind?” asked another.

“Make Santa sign a waiver!” someone concluded.

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