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  1. #1
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    Default Donating replaced equipment

    A common consensus that is emerging in the fancy equipment thread is the moral obligation to pass serviceable equipment that is no longer needed or used to a department that needs and can use it.

    It seems this equipment should be donated through one of the various Helping Our Own Programs, where it is inspected / repaired prior to distribution, in order to be shielded from any liability that could stem from an incident involving the recipients.

    Does anyone have any advice, pro or con on the subject?


  2. #2
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    In Illinois, we can donate to another dept. through the State Fire Marshall's office. They have a "hold harmless agreement" that we can download, both depts. sign it and it's all set. It's a great program that will help a bunch of needy depts.
    Jack Boczek, Chief
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  3. #3
    Forum Member Not2L84U2's Avatar
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    Default jboczek

    I was going to say the same thing. Have you ever donated anything through that program though? If we get funded this year for our county wide communications grant then we will be donating all of the old equipment (minitor II's, III's, and IV's, base radios, portables, mobiles, etc) as that was written into our grant. My question is, is it up to the department who is donating out the old equipment to determine who gets what? Can you break it up into each department only gets X amount? Can you ask that they write some sort of justification? I mean I'm sure you could, but then is it fair to do it that way or to go on the basis of first come first serve? I'm really glad that we included this into the grant, but some department were pretty upset over it because they wanted to sell the old equipment to pay their 5% of the new equipment. I think it's a great opportunity to help out other departments. I'm sure it has it's pro's and con's, but I really felt as if it made our narrative sound more appealing in the long run. I guess we'll wait and see where we end up coming out at, but we have already recieved our 10 questions and the 1199A, so I guess I'm thinking pretty positive.

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    I have spoken to reviewers that have said that often statements that are made in narratives concerning the "GIVING AWAY" (either to HOO or to another in-state or local Needy Fire Department) of the older equip. helps their cause ("brownie points" if ya will) - take in consideration, this depends on whom the three reviewers are.

    I can understand members questioning where the old gear is going...my question would be, are they selling the old equip AFTER the money has been appropriated, funds spent, awarded monies announced, etc. and then they are replacing the funds back in another area/same area? That is a confusing statement. Just know you have to be VERY careful about ANY sort of thing dealing with money especially grants...

    Hmmm, can you allocate 5% match, as say budget line item, then get award for 95%, spend, then sell old equip to replace the 5% back into, what, general budget? Some would depend on bylaws, muncipality vs. volunteer/combo. I guess.

    Care to chime in Kurt or Brian?
    Alana Tomlin Denton
    Freelance Grant Writer/Consultant

  5. #5
    MembersZone Subscriber npfd801's Avatar
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    Default

    We gave away our old SCBAs to a neighboring department as well as the local community college, and our old compressor to another neighbor.

    The packs all need newer bottles, but can provide parts and a few years of use for the groups getting them. We went to high pressure, so the low pressure compressor (which was also rather old and nearing the end of its service life) will hopefully find some use with the neighboring deptartment that just bought new low-pressure equipment (but had to use someone else to refill). I certainly hope they buy a containment device to fill their stuff, as we didn't have one previously.

    I think the department attorney drafted a hold harmless agreement for the recipients of our stuff.

  6. #6
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    Wink If they don't address it, no harm, no foul!

    Since I have failed to see anything in any RFP which would prohibit the practice, I do not see where they would have room to complain. You actually would have to ask the same question about a department selling off an old truck, if they got an apparatus award. I am sure this is commonly done and what happens to that money,? It goes back into the department coffers. I have also seen where selling off the old truck is sometinemes mentioned as where the 5% match would come from, personally I don't see a problem here. Brian, what say you?
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

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  7. #7
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    Many states already have hold harmless agreements with donated equipment, Texas being one of them. Helping Our Own knows exactly so you can email them to see if your state does. If they don't, drafting a hold harmless may not hold water as the laws of the state override such things. That's why most of California's slightly used equipment ends up in Mexico and not donated within the US. They don't have a hold harmless law for donations within the State or the US, but no problem not being held liable across the border.

    As far as selling the equipment to make the matching, I don't see any difference between that and having a fundraiser. If that's how you need to make your matching money, then have at it. Obviously my generous nature in the afterglow of good fortune says give it away, but if it must be sold to pay for the new, then sell it for exactly what the matching is and no more. I don't see DHS having any problems with that arrangement.

    And promising to donate is a mixed bag when mentioning it in the application. Some reviewers say they give brownie points, others say that if it's good enough to pawn off on another department, why is it not good enough for you anymore? Especially if you claim that it's beyond or too expensive to repair in the narrative. If you can't afford to fix it how is someone in worse shape going to do it. Two sides to every coin, there is.

    - Brian
    Brian P. Vickers
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    Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
    Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber ktb9780's Avatar
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    Wink Hitting it on the head again!

    Brian you are very right. Interestingly enough ABC was doing a special on the death of Peter Jennings this morning and in one of hisinterviews he stated:

    " I have always looked at reporting the news in the same way as I have whenever someone hands a coin to me; I just always have had to look at what was on the other side!"
    Kurt Bradley
    Public Safety Grants Consultant

    "Never Trade Skill for Luck"

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    Default

    When we have applied for grants before, I have always made mention of giving the still-serviceable items to another department, as a few in this area cannot come up with the 10% (now 5%) match. The items that were no longer serviceable were disposed of. Both the grant application and the closeout portions have always had similar statements about giving the replaced equipment to another department and I have never had anyone say anything. When closing out the grant, I also have stated that the receiving department's name will not be disclosed, however, it and a point of contact will be provided to an auditor during an onsite audit of expended funds.

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    Default

    I did check with a contact in the Fire Program just to make sure, before I spoke again on the selling of goods to replace the match. No problem there. I also asked the age old question EVERYONE in the forums has always asked...WHY can they not Madate that the departments be required to donate all that old equipment to a needy dept. and essentially help two depts. with one award. (Good question, right?)

    Well, I thought so, too. Until I heard the answer from 'Their' perspective. Say it's for a 1980 Tanker that the volunteer department had fundraised for 20 years prior to that, my contact said the government would have no authority to claim that and order the department to give that piece of eqip. to another department. Now, alot of departments choose to do so, and BRAVO for them...but it would be a record keeping nightmare for them to attempt something like that, not to mention they would have no legal grounds to do that. Some items can be put in as reserve/back-up or donated.

    Also, word of caution before you chuck that equip you think is worthless because you perceive it to be un-useable. That's often where Helping Our Own comes in. They can sometimes use parts off the older equip. to repair things they have in storage or maybe offer the parts to a department if necessary. There may be a use for it. Donating it to a non-profit org. keeps you out of it...and helps alot of others...
    Alana Tomlin Denton
    Freelance Grant Writer/Consultant

  11. #11
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    Default Buying SCBA's

    My department was turned down on our 2004 grant for airpacks and other equipment. We have applied for the 2005 grants (with no question as of today) for air packs, 800 MHz radios and a TIC. Here is the problem, we have decided to purchase air packs from a department that replaced all 40 packs with 2004 grant money. They are wanting about 20 k for there "used" equipment witch is 1/2 of our annual budget and we can only offer them 18k due to a lack of funds. Here is the problem a 1.? million department holding up the deal due to $2,000. I hope it goes threw we sure could use those packs.

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    Does anyone know a department that may have a set of stack tips they could part with? We have to deck guns and we really need a set of tips. We are just so very poor that we cannot purchase them. If anyone can help let me know @ bucknerfire@yahoo.com

  13. #13
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    Check with Helping Our Own also, the only cost to get equipment from them (at last check) was the cost of shipping what you requested. Of course your annual budget has to be under $15,000 to qualify for help. They're hoping to raise that as they get around to all departments in that situation, but not there yet.

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    We got approval on our application to helping our own but they didn't know when they would have anything available for us.

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    Everyone, check with your state office for Federal surplus. You can search via computer, takes some work to learn the ins and outs. You would be shocked what is out there.

  16. #16
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    Default Helping Our Own?

    Has anyone actually had face to face contact with "Helping Our Own"?

    I've been trying to donate some OLD SCBA from our dept and a neighboring dept has a bunch of stuff for them as well. Emails exchanged. They wanted ,would pick up in Jan/Feb, would be later in spring, etc etc. Aug, stuff is still sitting in my office lobby.

    Their website looks exactly the same as it did 18 months ago (no apparent changes/updates). Same categories, same photos etc.

    Real or just a great idea???

  17. #17
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    I know here in Houston there is a warehouse (bus barn actually) full of stuff to go to Michigan, and I know several departments in the same situation. The problem is simple to identify: money. They don't have the money to pay for the equipment to be shipped up there to get checked out, repaired, etc, etc. One of the directors recently passed away, and funding is getting tighter by the day. It is real, is a great idea, but like many great ideas it is a lack of funding that keeps it from being an ongoing operation. I have contacted them myself with several ideas on how to handle the shipping problem (from Houston anyway) and other than an acknowledgement, that was all I ever heard out of anyone.

  18. #18
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    Default

    I also just got a chance to meet them up in Baltimore at the Fire Expo. They are a great bunch of guys who are trying to get past alot of hurdles. As Brian mentioned they had a recent death of a Director, and several Board changes. As all of you can attest to, it can be difficult enough to find and keep volunteers in your LOCAL departments - imagine trying to staff a NATIONAL network of volunteers who are already working FT jobs and typically already volunteers within their communities as well, BEFORE Helping Our Own.

    So, they are faced with considerable challenges trying to find and locate funding, Board Members, Volunteers, and find places to store donated materials. There is enormous logistical issues with a national group such as theirs.

    Alot of the Departments we are all involved with have seen funding hurdles overcome by grants, they have not had that luxury. So, I would hope that we could all be really patient with them, while they are going thru this time of regrouping and restructuring, and bear with them. I know alot of times, networking among your in-state peers is good for giving away those older pieces of equip. and no one has to store it, or go retrieve it. And it helps everyone.

    They really deserve our support, they have MY respect - as well as offer of volunteer assistance.
    Alana Tomlin Denton
    Freelance Grant Writer/Consultant

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    If anyone from Helping is reading (or other FD) that needs to move freight and has no $. I've had good success with getting private carriers to move DOD surplus equipment for me. The common carriers will be happy to quote a price, if you cry poor vol FD you can occassionally get Roadway or their competition to do a local pickup or discounted Space A move.

    But for free assistance you need private/captive carriers. The manufacturer or distributor that OWNS their trucks and is moving their goods. You need the guys that are more interested in getting their truck back to the warehouse to pickup another load than they are in finding a paying backhaul. And their drivers expect to be back home most weekends, not sitting at a truck stop waiting for a load. For example one of the companies that has helped me several times is a cabinet mfg. They haul a semi load of cabinets to the East coast and deadhead back to IA. They will haul DOD surplus for me for free and I go to their plant or they drop off at my business. Problem with DOD is their casual hours and getting thru the BS pseudo gate security on a schedule that matches the truckers schedule.

    This also does not work for flatbed (which is usually what I need) as 99% of f
    flatbeds are owner operator. They or their brokers won't do anything for free. Will deadhead clearacross the US in hope a load will appear as they drive by mile marker 123. In my opinion the tax deduction for donating trans to a FD would be more valuable. Mark it up at $3/mi for all I care, where do I sign.

    A smart Fireman in Houston could shirley (or surely) find a private mfg hauling to MI (I think Helping is in MI). You guys in MI or Tx tell us what mfg with private fleets run Mi to TX (or into Mexico). Auto? I think Heyworth Office Equipment is in Mi.

  20. #20
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    "I'm not kidding, and don't call me Shirley."

    That was one of my thoughts, but a good amount of the vehicles are made here, so there aren't many going MI-TX, and if they are, those car carriers aren't quite made for handling boxes. But since we have major commercial shippers at the airport with oodles of space, my idea was to get them to donate a small area to keep stuff boxed up in, and when there's going to be room on a flight in that direction, they can throw it on. I haven't taken it further than mentioning it to Mark W. himself (head of HOO), mostly because I have no official title or standing with HOO, so I'm not going to go around and claim to be doing things on their behalf. Just not how I operate.

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