I'm a chicken**** or: The firefighters beg for money

I got a call about 15 minutes ago. It was from the local firefighters conceil, wanting me to donate to support them.

I appreciate the job they do, but I’m really not in the position to be donating. I tried to tell this to the firefighter but it’s hard. He started at a suggested $60 donation and every time I said I’d see what I could do, he dropped it down $20. When he had me down to $20, I kept trying to say “I’m not sure I can commit any money at the moment”. He kept pressing me for money and I kept trying to poliely get him to let me off the damn phone without commiting to anything.

Eventually, I couldn’t take it anymore and disconnected the phone cord. I’m a chickenshit, I know.

I just hate it when public services call to beg for money. I support firefighters, but as I said before, I don’t feel like donating. The problem is: How are you supposed to say NO in a polite manner? I kept trying to do that I and got nowhere. They are so good at guilting people. There’s the implication that you can’t say no to such a good cause.

And it’s ironic because a credit card representive called me yesterday to ask me to buy some service with their card. I was easily able to politely tell the rep I’m not interested and that was the end of it.

Am I the only one who has such problems blowing off the firefighters(or whoever?)?

Actually, now that I think of it, I even got a call from an Army Recruiter last week and I had no problem telling him why I didn’t want to join the Army. I even freely admitted that I’d join the Navy, Air Force or Marines before joining the Army.

And yet, I can’t tell a firefighter I won’t donate money, even if I have no intetion of doing so.

I’m guessing that if they’re not professional fund-raisers, they’re lack of training showed through. The credit card company make sure they don’t waste time on lost causes, but politely accept the declination. The firefighters have probably just been told ‘do your best’, and nobody realised this means accepting ‘no’ as an answer.

On a more general scale, I’d be very concerned if our firefighters were asking the public for money. If anything is a public service, isn’t it police and fire services?

You have to be careful about these calls. It may be a scam.

Next time they call (and they WILL call back), ask them to send you some literature about their organization in the mail. Keep doing this and eventually they’ll back off.

Exactly. I pay taxes to support them, and when there’s a ballot measure to give them more money, I usally vote for it.

My dad’s standard response line is “I’ve already donated a brother,” which seems to give them pause.

My uncle is a (now retired) NYC fireman. FWIW, my family has never donated anything through these calls-- my uncle specifically told us not to. Most (if not all) of them are not actual firemen, but a “charity” that only gives a small portion of your donation to any actual firehouse.

I don’t. Most charities telemarketing for firefighters (and cops) don’t give the organization very much of what they collect.

Here’sa recent article that deals mostly with numbers specifically in New Jersey, but the rules apparently apply nationally. In googling for that article, I found references to a bunch of other states regarding firefighter charity outrages. Here’s another.

If you want to give the firefighters 20 bucks, walk down to the station and give 'em 20 bucks. If you want to give the firefighters a buck and a half, give the guy on the phone 20 bucks.

I find it slightly bizarre that essential services like firefighters aren’t totally funded by taxes. Do the police also solicit for donations?

I’ve gotten similar calls supposedly for the police, so yes, they do. It’s pretty much just a scam.

When they call and try to tell me “Can we count on your support this year?”
I usually tell them “You sure can, I’ll be paying my local property taxes on time this year and you guys will get your cut.”

What I’ve done is to ask them how much of the money goes to the program vs the fundraising company and the answer is usually only twenty percent. “So if I send you a hundred bucks, only twenty goes to buy life insurance for the cops (or whatever the stated purpose is). Wouldn’t I be better off sending a check directly to them?”

When they promise a window sticker indicating that I’m a supporter of the county police officer’s association, I ask point-blank if it will get me out of speeding tickets. They always seem surprised at the question.

I got one of these calls a few years ago. I was curious about it all, so I said they could send me something in the mail. Got it, read it – turns out that the money is for the firefighters union (which of course they never said in the call). In fact, in the call, they said it was a tax-deductible donation, which it is most definitely not. The state got a lot of complaints about the professional telemarketers running that one.

The situation is wholly dependent on where you are located. In major cities, fire protection is a department of city government funded in whole by the taxpayers. As the size of the municipality drops, you’ll find combination departments, which means a few paid firefighters, the balance of the force coming from the volunteers, and finally across the majority of the landscape, covering the greatest number of square miles, are the 100% volunteer departments.

How much we receive from a municipality varies tremendously, mostly driven by the tax base. When I lived just outside of Philly, my department was one of 5 covering one township, and we had an operating budget of roughly a quarter million dollars. Most of that came from the township, and the remainder we raised running bingo.

Contrast that with a rural department I ran with years later which covered about the same number of square miles, but ran far fewer calls owing to reduced population density, and they received about $15K from the local town fathers, and made all the rest of their meager budget with pie sales, bingo, hall rentals, a carnival, etc.

What do things cost? A new pumper with 10 man cab and 1750 pump will top $300K, before you’ve put any equipment on it. Ladder trucks are approaching three-quarters of a million. One set of protective gear is over $1500, and the self-contained breathing apparatus adds another $2K, each. To meet NFPA specifications, members must have attained a basic level of skills to ride. That doesn’t come free, as the instructors and evaluators have to get paid. My present department spends 5K a year to put newbies through basic and offer something new as well as periodic refreshers for old buggers like me. So far I've left out the building, a mortgage (maybe), utilities, gas & oil, maintenance, insurance, and hopefully you've got some money left over for a fire prevention program, and a few to put in the kitty for future expenses.

Some municipalities are permitted to enact a special fire tax millage which goes directly to the fire company(ies). If a department doesn’t enjoy that benefit, they’re left going to the town fathers with hat in hand, and hoping they’re feeling generous.

As far as direct phone solicitation, I find it to be intrusive and tacky. As previously posted, if it’s a professional solicitation outfit, they’re keeping the hog and giving the fire company a rib or two. Do your taxes truly fund the local department? The only way to answer that is go to a council, supervisors, or other board meeting and ask, or head down to the firehouse and bang on the door.

I’ll bet a dime it wasn’t a firefighter.
There is an organization called, something like, The National Federation of Firefighters.
It has nothing to do with firefighters.
I’m not sure what they are about, but the local fire depts get bad press because of them. They sometimes call to sell tickets to the “Fireman’s Ball.”
But no fireman I know has ever been invited.
I think they are a general charity.

I got one of those calls when I was a volunteer firefighter. The telemarketer started out the call by saying, “Do you know how tough of a job our local firefighters have?” I said “yes.” He then asked, “How do you know?” I told him, “Well, I’m a volunteer structural firefighter/EMT and I’m a full-time wildland firefighter.” I eventually hung up during the ensuing silence.

In our area, our (volunteer) fire department receives no tax dollars at all. We have an annual “suggested donation,” which we make happily since we want their services. But it’s an annual solicitation made by mail and paid directly to the volunteer fire service, not through some telemarketing scam.

Plus if we don’t make our annual “suggested donation,” our insurance company raises our rates. That’s a good way of enforcing support, IMO; fire services are pretty damned important.

I never, ever respond to the phone solicitations for tickets to the policeman’s ball or any such, and I refuse to feel guilty about it.

In the small town that I live in, the volunteer firemen are all we have, and they canvass the town twice a year for donations. They always let us know when the canvassing will be, as it’s posted at the the post office or in the local paper. I always give them a few dollars. It’s no big deal.

I’m going to have my husband read this thread.

When he was new to the States, and not yet employed, he’d answer the phone & get these calls. And ALWAYS promise to donate. He was absolutely sure that if we didn’t send money, we’d be in trouble. :rolleyes: I think we spent 60 bucks on the police and firefighters bullshit. He’s since learned to either ignore “out of area” calls or just hang up on them.

For a while, they called all the time… They know my hubby’s a sucker. So when I picked up the phone my stock answer was, “We’re both unemployed (lie) and cannot donate.” Of course, they’ll try to talk me into sending only $20, to which I replied, “Dude, that will almost fill up my gas tank. Take me off your calling list.” They haven’t called in a while.

There may be a few exceptions, but by large neither the firefighters nor police solicit by phone; and if they do, I’m sure they don’t give you a hard sell. The calls you’re getting are an out-and-out tele-fundraising scam, and the 20% figure quoted is high – it’s usually 10%.

I know. Shamefully enough, I used to work for the largest one.

I have a standard policy for calls from anyone who is trying to separate me from my money. It applies to everyone, even organizations I know and donate money to annually. I don’t even think about it long enough to feel guilt when it’s an organization I think is worthy. I’m simply not willing to tolerate anyone intruding on my life on anything but my schedule. The technique applies to anyone who comes to my door, as well.

How the conversation goes:
Them: “Hello, my name is X and I’m calling on behalf of Some Company that Would Like your Money.”
Me: I’m sorry, I’m not interested. Please take me off your calling list.

I start into my spiel somewhere in the middle of the above sentence, as soon as I’ve ascertained that it’s not actually an organization I volunteer for calling about a change in plans. My goal is to waste as little of my time as possible. I’m always polite and calm and don’t stay around to hear their response. There have been a couple of times (pre-Do Not Call List and before I got the timing of the technique down pat) when someone tried to talk me out of my disinterest. I repeated the “Take me off your calling list” part as I was hanging up.

I’ve been using this technique for over 10 years and calls pretty much disappeared a couple years into it.

GT