Executive director

Volunteer Firefighter Donation Request is Not From Local Departments

The volunteer fire departments in Bozrah and Taftville want residents to know they’re not sending out letters asking for money.

There’s been some confusion lately after letters from a non-profit have been arriving in the mail, asking people to donate or volunteer their time.

“It appears to be misleading because if you look at the bold areas—your eyes are drawn to the bold areas first. With a quick scan over, it appears to be coming from the fire department,” said Taftville Fire Department Assistant Chief Bill Hadam.

If you look at the letter distributed in Taftville, the bold title reads “Taftville Area Volunteer Firefighter Drive,” the reply form, where a person can submit a donation, reads “2018 Taftville Area Volunteer Drive Reply Form.”

But upon a closer read, the letter is from the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance. A 501 (c) (3) non-profit. The money is to continue their national volunteer firefighter recruitment efforts and the mail-back address is to a P.O. Box in Topeka, Kansas. The company is located in Knoxville, Tenn.

The same letter was sent out in the Bozrah area, too, but targeted to that community.

“If you live in Bozrah or in the Bozrah area you know there’s only one fire department and we’re the only volunteer fire department for the town. I think the letter was misleading and confusing,” said Bozrah Volunteer Fire Co. Chief Ryan Sholes.

Sholes wants to make it clear the department will see none of the money the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance is raising.

He said there’s poor timing with the distribution of that letter as well since the department is currently negotiating with the town to get some paid staff during the week to fill a void in available volunteers. He doesn’t want the community to misinterpret.

Volunteer Firefighter Alliance Executive Director Alan Bohms said he thought the letter clearly stated that it’s a national program and they’ll reach out to a local department if someone wants to volunteer.

The money goes to the production and distribution of radio and TV public service announcements, Bohms said. That information is not listed in the mail-out.

“We’ve stopped the mailing because of the feedback we’ve received about the confusion and are going to revamp the letter,” according to Bohms, adding only four to five letter went to each zip code.

The entire Volunteer Firefighters Alliance staff, including himself, are volunteer firefighters, Bohms said.

Hadam said his department does all its own fundraising whether it be community breakfasts or an upcoming comedy show.

“I had to read it a couple of times to get the true meaning of it. And people with their busy lives, they’re checking their mail and they look through and again, look at the bold areas and go, ‘Oh, local fire department looking for donations,’” Hadam said.

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