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    Question Use of donations

    I'm not a firefighter, but I certainly respect and appreciate the time and risk involved (especially all you volunteers - thanks!). In several communities where I live in northern New Jersey, there's an investigation going on into how town fire departments use donations from residents. This was set off when seven members of a local firehouse went on vacation to Mexico, allegedly using money raised in an in-uniform, door-to-door solicitation on September 11, 2006.

    I'm curious to know what firefighters from other areas think of the practice of using donations for non-essential equipment and training. One of the local chief's was quoted in our fairly reliable daily newspaper as saying that while anybody who does something illegeal should be punished, "I don't like to see any kind of investigation of fire departments, because we try to do the best we can, and that's just another problem."

    This seems way out of line to me, especially because using the donated funds for non-essential items (like vacations!) is NOT illegal; it just seems immoral. I know I would think twice about giving money even to an important organization like my volunteer fire department if I thought it was just going to allow a few of my neighbors to fly off to Cancun; I pay for own vacations, and so should they.

    Thoughts?

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    Default Use of Donations

    We use the donations that we get from our local residents to KEEP the doors OPEN. Without the giving of our community, we could not afford to be there for long. The county $ we get only covers some things, and not many to be exact. Combined we need what ever we get to keep all of our equipment up and running, not to mention our newest front line engine as of today is a 1985, with the oldest in the station being a 1966
    thanks for resident support

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    I think those guys are the exception rather than the rule. Most departments are struggling to get funds just to buy the proper equipment. This department is obviuosly not in that boat. Without a doubt they have misused thier funds. Without a doubt they have vilated the public trust. Without a doubt their actions were unethical.

    That said. We occasionlly get donations that specifically state they would like us to get beverages for our club house, which is a seperate organization. So I don't think it is unethical to have a cookout or clam bake or little get together for the fireman. It is a way of thanks for all of your hard work throughout the year. BUt trips to the Cancun are a bit extravegant.

    I would recommend that you give your charitbal dollars to other deserving fire departments or charities. It is obvious these guys have way too much money.

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    REPORTER ALERT! REPORTER ALERT!

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    REPORTER ALERT! REPORTER ALERT!
    Yeah, exactly. Quite a first post.

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    Rumor has it that the Penguin Squad raised funds to pay Kiwi's bar tab. Any truth to that?

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    While I agree with George's assessment, I have no problem talking about monies raised by my company.

    We have reworded our donation letter in past years to make it crystal clear to our residents that the money they are donating is being used to keep the firehouse running. It pays the electric bill, the gas bill, building insurance, and other building related expenses. IF anyone reads the letter, they will (or should) know that their donation money is not buying FF gear, not buying trucks, not paying for MOST training (although sometimes the company does pay for gas to get there and back) and not sending people away on "trips".

    Be upfront, open, and honest. Keeps the problems away.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    REPORTER ALERT! REPORTER ALERT!
    So let us educate sadi individual and make him our friend and not our enemy. I believe we call it public relations. You will find it in the incident command system. It is also an essential element in the survival of many departments. Let us not blow a golden opportunity.

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    Cool

    Ok George; am I wrong or has the firehouse, sarcasm, witicism and humor as well as the typical firehouse response been lost here?

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    We use our donated money to build a firehouse (in an ISO 10 area). The only thing that isn"t FFequip is "T" shirts every 2or3 years. The reporter can come and help us out.
    Stay Safe ~ The Dragon Still Bites!

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    It makes for an interesting inner conflict for me when it's obvious that it's a media rep asking for my opinion, but the rep's very question places brother and sister firefighters in the spotlight.

    I embrace the media, and make sure they know what's going on in my department every day. However, being asked to judge another department and how they handle things is hard, espically since all we know about the department in question is what's being told to us by the same media outlets.

    That being said, my volunteer department is supported with both donations and municipal funds. We're very lucky that our county's board of supervisors looks very favorably upon the volunteers, and understand the "bang for the buck" that they get by not having to pay career FF salaries. Therefore, they purchase our fire apparatus for us, and assist us with the payment of insurance bills, utilities, and the like. In fact, our county government is paying for our new 15,000SF fire station, for which construction begins in a few of months.

    Do we still solicit donations? Absolutely. What do they pay for? They helped pay the balance of the DHS grant we were awarded last year, the donations will pay for all of the furniture and fixtures that have to go into our new fire station next year, we purchase members new t-shirts every year (without morale, it's difficult to have good turn-out on calls), and other things for the good and welfare of the company. The donations we receive help send members to our State Fire Chief's Association conference every year, and other trade conferences. The department doesn't, and never will, pay for any of the alcohol consumed on these trips. Furthermore, the department doesn't pay for any members to go on "vacations" -- trips must be fire-service related.

    I think that one thing to consider is that the fire service varies so much from region-to-region, it's sometimes hard to make comparisons. Over the past five years or so, we've been lucky enough to get new members from across the eastern seaboard, each bringing stories from thier own prior departments. We hear (and have even gotten to see) the differences between our department and those in Northern Jersey, Northern Pennsylvania, and even mid-Georgia. Again, what's accepted in some areas would not be fathomed in others.

    It's not my place to judge the decisions of fire officers I don't know, but I know that in my area, the VFD's have enough to contend with on a daily basis (staffing, training, and the like). Trying to justify department funds being used on a Cancun trip wouldn't be anything that any fire chief that I know would want to have to worry about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lvwrench View Post
    Ok George; am I wrong or has the firehouse, sarcasm, witicism and humor as well as the typical firehouse response been lost here?
    It hasn't been lost by anyone who isn't a God blessed idiot.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    So let us educate sadi individual and make him our friend and not our enemy. I believe we call it public relations. You will find it in the incident command system. It is also an essential element in the survival of many departments. Let us not blow a golden opportunity.
    It's public relations if the reporter comes in and clearly identifies himself. If he comes in as a citizen asking questions w/o identifying the motive, that is deception and he deserves to be ignored.

    BTW, keep on arguiing with me about every post. You will eventually be made to look like a bigger fool than you look like now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It's public relations if the reporter comes in and clearly identifies himself. If he comes in as a citizen asking questions w/o identifying the motive, that is deception and he deserves to be ignored.

    BTW, keep on arguiing with me about every post. You will eventually be made to look like a bigger fool than you look like now.
    George:
    Your assessment, as usual is dead on.
    I find it sad that someone has to come in here under a cloak and troll for public opinion. I have to wonder if they will go back to the newsroom and claim that this was some scientific poll or exclusive.
    However; I do have an opinion on firefighter fund-raising. Like others, I read the article about the Jersey boys going to Cancun, allegedly using donated funds. I believe it hasn't been proven yet, so the jury is still out. My opinion is that if they did, in fact, use donated money, then was it done under false pretenses? If so, then it's fraud. Did they solicit money while wearing the uniform and while on FD time? Then, they should be punished administratively.
    If found to be true, will it affect this department's ability to solicit funds in the future? Definitely. It is one thing for a lone firefighter to take the pop money. It's quite another for a whole gaggle of them to take vacation with donated money, if it's found to be true. (Notice how I am throwing in "alleged" and "if found to be true"? I don't want to be accused of not supporting the "brothers".)
    Anyway; back to our reporter friend or I mean first time poster.
    mpnjguy:
    Ultimately, the public decides on these matters. When our department has a fund raiser, we put out equipment that has been purchased in the past with donated money and we specifically state what the next round of donations are going to purchase. The worst thing you can do with donated money is **** it away on "toys" or other non-essential items. Keep in mind that what the firefighters think is essential and what the public thinks is essential could be different. And the public has to be aware of what has been purchased with tax money and what has been purchased with donated money, because there is a different purchasing protocol for that. But neither should be viewed as money wasted, regardless.
    If you feel that your department is wasting the money donated, then the public will simply stop donating. It will take more tax money to fund the department and the public also controls that process. In the end, a few bad apples will cause a noble group to fold due to lack of funding. The public has to remain educated in fire service issues to keep their local fire departments on top of THEIR game. If you walk into the fire station at the pancake breakfast and the sign says "Money donated to go towards equipment", ask the chief to be more specific. "What is it and how much does it cost?" "How will this equipment enhance and improve the fire department?" If he can't satisfactorily answer your questions, then you weren't hungry anyway.
    I've said too much. I will be ostracized.
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    All operations including saleries, training, equipment purchases, maintanence and capital purchases are handled from our tax revenue.

    All donations go into the Fireman's Fund. It is used for banquets, cook-outs, T-Shirts, our firefighter hardship fund and station "comfort" items and such. When someone makes a donation or we do a fundraiser (every 3 years) it is made clear that this is for the "comfort and benefit of the firefighters" and the money will NOT be used for any type of operational expense. We have yet to have a problem.

    Louisiana state law is very strict as to how tax revenue can be spent and we are audited yearly. Tax money cannot be spent on any of the items that we purchase with Fireman's Fund money.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChiefReason View Post
    ... I find it sad that someone has to come in here under a cloak and troll for public opinion. ...
    Interesting that someone would come to a private forum on a private website looking for public opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It's public relations if the reporter comes in and clearly identifies himself. If he comes in as a citizen asking questions w/o identifying the motive, that is deception and he deserves to be ignored.

    BTW, keep on arguiing with me about every post. You will eventually be made to look like a bigger fool than you look like now.
    As an investigator I would expect you have some sort of proof. After all, investigators arenít like the general public who go around making blind accusations. So other than gut feeling, what proof do you have there sonny.

    However, since it is obviously someone outside the realm of the fire service would this then not be considered the public? And since this is the public, it is public relations. How do you know that this isn't some concerned citizen who is a little more than upset that his donations went to fund some boon doggle?

    FYI, I don't argue with you about every one of your post. Some are so far off the wall they don't require a response.

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    Block wall. Hit head on block wall. Take to Excedrin and find another block wall to hit head on. Repeat as often as required. Sheesh. Your turn George.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Interesting that someone would come to a private forum on a private website looking for public opinion.
    Exactly what makes you think this is a private website and/or a private forum?
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Interesting that someone would come to a private forum on a private website looking for public opinion.


    Posted on "Webteam is trying...here's proof"
    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter
    I have come to realize that the topic of the Internet and what it is really doesn't belong here.
    hmmmmmmm
    First in, Last out, nobody left behind.....

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    Chief, when I meet my stalkers, it is head on and in public. Usually not very pretty.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Exactly what makes you think this is a private website and/or a private forum?
    Perhaps you missed the thread on "Webteam is trying...here's proof"

    http://forums.firehouse.com/showthread.php?t=87339

    Within that thread we evolced into a discussion as to whether or not this is a public place or a private place. My stand on the issue is that it is a public place. Here is the logic. A network, by it's very definition, is a collection of computers and peripherals all connected by a common medium, for the purpose of sharing and collobartion. The Internet is a public netowrk. When yo make a conscious decsion to join the internet, either by putting up a web site or by connecting your home PC to it, you become part of a public entity.

    A good analogy is your car. As long as it sets in your drivewway and stays on your property you can do whatever you want with it. As soon as you venture out into the public with it, that is the roads and highways, you are now part of a public entity and must follow certain rules.

    I just find it curious that now there are those who would call this public rather than private.

    As for moving to another venue for the discussion, I have taken it off into geekland, wher it truly belongs. It isn't a FD issue and has no business in these forums. These are a couple of areas of interest.

    http://www.cccure.org/
    http://www.privacyrights.org/
    http://www.privacyrights.org/netprivacy.htm

    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI
    Chief, when I meet my stalkers, it is head on and in public. Usually not very pretty.
    Well George if I were a stalker I would cherish the opportunity to meet you in person. And even though I am not a Stalker I would still enjoy meeting you as well as everyone else here in person. Face to Face meetings often will change ones perception of the person they are dealing with. But I question why you would think I am a stalker?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post

    However, since it is obviously someone outside the realm of the fire service would this then not be considered the public? And since this is the public, it is public relations. How do you know that this isn't some concerned citizen who is a little more than upset that his donations went to fund some boon doggle?

    FYI, I don't argue with you about every one of your post. Some are so far off the wall they don't require a response.
    Then keep the troll$ in the trollpurse. Donation = voluntary

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    Quote Originally Posted by GeorgeWendtCFI View Post
    It's public relations if the reporter comes in and clearly identifies himself. If he comes in as a citizen asking questions w/o identifying the motive, that is deception and he deserves to be ignored.

    BTW, keep on arguiing with me about every post. You will eventually be made to look like a bigger fool than you look like now.
    Right on, George right on!

    Those who have been here a while will remember a certain attorney representening a volunteer assistant chief who ran a drill in September of 2001 and killed one of his recruits. He came on the forums looking for information and input in an attempt to build his case to exonerate his client.

    Not only did it backfire, but he himself is doing time for his involvment in drug running....

    It is proof that there is a God... even for those who are agnostic or atheist
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 03-07-2007 at 07:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HotTrotter View Post
    Interesting that someone would come to a private forum on a private website looking for public opinion.
    Take note that I answered in a very public way. I thought I did well.
    Now; go re-attach yourself to George. I am already at the limit. I will have to charge you extra if you stay.
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