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Wellesley firefighters who rescued Crosby not allowed to keep generous Degeneres cruise gift because of ethics laws.

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Raw video of dog rescue on Charles River

Kelly A. Mello, Wellsley Patch:

Due to Massachusetts ethics laws, the four firefighters who rescued Crosby from the icy Charles River cannot accept the cruise offered to them by "The Ellen Degeneres Show."

MA Wellesley dog rescue Ellen

Captain Jim Dennehy, lieutenant Paul Delaney, firefighter Dave Papazian and firefighter Joan Cullinan were invited to the show after "The Ellen Degeneres Show" learned of the rescue that occurred Dec. 22.

"It was a nice gesture on Ellen’s part and the firefighters were surprised by that, but state statute is very clear, so we FedExed the vouchers back to the Ellen show," Wellesley Fire Chief Richard DeLorie told

The law states that municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more given to influence their official actions or because of their official position.

"The Ellen Degeneres Show" also gave the firefighters personalized life vests. They were able to keep them, however, as they were considered a novelty item.


MA Wellesley dog rescue 4

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Comments - Add Yours

  • AA

    Thank god the trip was returned, because there is a strong possibility that with this influence, they would hold out rescuing dogs and/or people in the future, unless a cruise was promised in return.

    Give me a break… sometimes you just gotta use common sense and override "the rules"…

  • Fire21

    Despite common belief, rules are NOT meant to be broken.  Many gratuities are offered in true gratitude from the giver, but as with most good things, abusers have caused rules that ruin it for everyone.  Nice rescue, firefighters!!

  • Mack Seagrave

    It's a shame that the department returned the tickets. I'm sure there is an elected official who would have happily taken them and enjoyed the trip. After all, the swine in elected office need to take a break from demonizing cops and firefighters and misleading the public about their pensions. Great job by the Brothers, wonderful gesture by Ellen Degeneres.

  • Another Dave

    Ellen should give the cruise trip for two to the firefighter's wife's.

    • AA

      Awesome answer!! Works for when they award contracts to women and minority owned businesses!

  • FlLtFiremedic

    I think it is a common "issue" with government employees (except politicians).  I work for a city FD and we can't accept anything that isn't offered to the whole city staff.  After wild fires in 1998, a theme park offered free admission tickets to all FF's and the city manager at that time said 'No", based on that policy.  An "anonymous" phone call to a radio station that gave it the office and fax number of the CM, temporarily reversed that policy but generated animosity for years to come.

  • FF/PM Greg

    Who made the decision that the vests are considered a novelty item?  Why are they a novelty?  Why is a cruise not a novelty?  Nice work WFD, nice gesture Ellen.

  • puzzled

    sometimes you just gotta use common sense and override "the rules"…

    Part of the problems in the fire service and the world in general is that too many people have your attitude. We don't wear SCBA even though there are rules saying we will. We don't wear seatbelts even though there are rules that say otherwise. Follow Dave's site on any given day, and you will see at least one example of firefighters and or departments "overiding the rules".

    As far as common sense goes. Modern science genetically removed the common sense gene several years ago, and replaced it with the stupidity gene.



    • AA

      Geez, Puzzled… let's not take it to the extreme.  We're not talking about one person putting out a house fire with a booster line and no SCBA.

      What I meant was that, in this particular situation, someone with the authority to review the "gift" and make a decision to deem it acceptable.

      Part of the problem in the fire service, and in society itself, really, is that we've become too environmentally, "social justically", and politically correct.

      And I agree.  Common sense, or more accurately, the ability to USE your common sense, has been removed.

  • ThatGuy

    This is a great story, the crew and department were not out promoting what they did by any means. I think its hideous that the city and fire deaprtment would not let these individuals accept a gift for a job they DID NOT HAVE TO DO….


    We are not in the business of saving animals.

    • Fire21

      But we are in the business of giving help to people who are experiencing an emergency.  If you've ever had a family pet, you know that endangerment of that pet is an emergency to its owners.  Thus we answer the call for help and do what we can.  I consider that to be line of duty.

    • CareerLt

      What a ridiculous statement. Our primary mission is the protection of LIFE. It does not specify what type of life. Obviously within reason, and obviously they felt the risk reward weighed in their favor. And obviously the IC made the correct call. Get out of this profession now or give up your hobby as a volley

      • Dave

        Agreed. Priority Number One,,,,,  LIFE SAFETY.

        Does NOT specify human.

  • Wizzer49

    I know the interpretation of that rule is probably very different for elected public servants (trough eaters), at least in NJ it is.

    How about asking these everyday heroes how her generousity could be used to help them in their daily mission, if the cruise is off limits. Maybe another TIC or creature comfort in the firehouse. That way everyone gets rewarded not just those directly involved.

    So their department doesn't offer any medals for valor. Such awards could effect the way they do their jobs, right? They would get those medals due to the position they hold?

    I agree that rules are broken too often but this is an an interpretation of a rule that I don't agree with. How is this going to effect their future action in a bad way? There is no intent to influence them due to their position! It is an after the fact recognition for a nice rescue.



  • Anon

    ThatGuy says

    “We are not in the business of saving animals.”

    Actually, that is an incorrect assessment.

    Firefighters protect life and property. Dogs, as well as most other livestock, is property.

    That the domestic, or family dog, is a living, breathing, and sentient being does not change the fact that it is property.

    For a firefighter to say he is not in the business to save animals is akin to him saying he is not in the business of saving structures.

    At a barn fire, would you attempt to get the endangered livestock out if you could?