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Why are poor depts the best at donating equip & gear ????

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  • Why are poor depts the best at donating equip & gear ????

    Ive been the Arkansas coordinator for Helping Our Own for a little over a month now, Tell me this, why is it that the small, poor fire depts are the best at donating equipment and gear ? If they have one piece they arent using or know they wont need , they get on the phone to let us know they have it to give away. Some of the other depts that have extra/ surplus equipment that is out of service, do not want to do anything with it except let it sit there and rot.
    This last weekend, i went with a new dept on a trip to Missouri and Illinois, We went to some of the poorest depts that i have ever seen, But they gave two old firetrucks, and two pickup loads of equipment and gear. all they want to keep is just what it takes to get by on. Talk about being unselfish.
    I wish more depts could get into that frame of mind. there are many, many more depts out there needing help.
    Is it because the small depts still remember what is was like to start from scratch and to be without ? or what.
    Thanks for listening guys. Keep the help coming , we are doing a lot of good but there is many more miles to go.
    Capt Tyler Sitzer
    Arkansas coordinator for Helping Our Own www.helpingourown.com

  • #2
    Because the smaller depts. know what it is like to be without something and understand the value of re-using things.

    "When the bell goes ding-ding, its time to get on the woo-woo."
    "Dusting desire - starting to learn. Walking through fire with out a burn..."
    Youngstown Fire Department


    • #3
      I believe it is because the poorer (small-town) fire departments know what it is like to go without. So once they get something new (newer), they want others that are less fortunate to be able get by with what they have been "getting by with". Plus, and I mean this in no deragatory matter and this isn't a put down, I believe that people in smaller communities are more caring and passionate that big cities and bigger departments. Most of the smaller communities operate only on a fundraising budget. This is in no way intended to put people on the defensive. I am from a smaller town, and have lived in big (500k) cities as well as moderate cities (80K). I moved back to a rural area just for that fact. Thank you, Good Luck all and Stay Safe.


      • #4
        Another possible reason. Poorer departments generally are not supported by taxes. It is illegal to give away or or outright sell taxpayer property. It can be sold at auction or thrown in the trash.

        Here's the funny thing...

        We can throw it in the trash and call the vfd down the road and say "we just trashed 10 sets of turnouts" and they can dig it out and keep it. But, we can't call them and say "were going to trash 10 sets of turnouts, do you want them before we do?"


        • #5
          if its illegal to donate taxpayer owned equipment , then most depts that are helping us are breaking the law, there are many ways around that, even if its just officially taking something out of service and having the fire board, city council, etc, pass a motion to get rid of the equipment.
          and as far as the trashing equipment, some depts will pile the stuff up somewhere and call someone they know can do something with it, and say, there is a pile of gear at so and so place, if it disapears it wont hurt our feelings, most depts have no problem getting rid of what they have and if its done anonimously , then there isnt a need for hold harmless agreements and such.
          or call a dept or organization such as ours and say, we have 10 sets of turnouts for sale for $10. then it is a sale.
          my own dept has taken gear to a needy depts station and just left them a suprise , they had an idea where it came from , but there isnt any proof,
          there are too many depts needing help to let worries stop us from helping.
          thanks guys, Tyler


          • #6
            I certianly agree with what has already been said. The less fortunate departments with little or no municipal funding know what it is like to start with nothing and operate on a shoe string. My department is one such. We just gotten our head above water so to speak in the last 8 years or so. And we have given to other places when we had something that we didn't need and felt they could use it. Also we've gotten luck and been given a few things also. For instance we began EMS transport in 1998. About the same time another small fledgling rescue squad on the other side of the county offered us a 1987 Horton ambulance. They had been operating with two ambulances and were getting a new truck, felt we needed it worse that they needed a third unit and gave it to us, we never even asked anyone for it, they just called us up and offered. That's the way we get by helping each other out! Amen to the idea that if the rich departments with surplus equipment would only find it in their hearts to help out us small departments with limited resources, everyone would benefit. We're all in this together for the same reason right?


            • #7
              OK, just for clarification call your city attorney and ask if you're allowed to give away taxpayer owned stuff, even to a department in need. It is illegal in Texas.

              If beauracrats are willing to entertain and pass a motion to donate or sell it to someone and at the same time assume any future liability regarding it then more power to them. (There was an excellent article in Fire Chief a few years ago regarding the legalities of all this, I think Vincent Brannigan wrote it. We passed it along to the powers that be and our attorney and city manager agreed with the conclusions and that's why we do it this way.)

              It's quicker, easier and legally cleaner to put it in a clean plastic bag, seal it tight, toss it in a clean easy to access part of the dumpster (or a couple of nice new sealed rubbermaid 40 gallon trash cans - wink-wink, nod-nod) and make a phone call. No wait for the council to approve it, just turn in an inventory change that says we threw items such and such in the trash and why.

              there are too many depts needing help to let worries stop us from helping.

              Who's worried? In fact, we loan equipment "indefinately" all the time (we just need to know where it's at for annual inventory), get requests for stuff that we might have laying around that a visiting volly might see and ask if we might throw away. And turnouts get washed and dried before they get tossed.

              On both my departments our philosophy is, you need it and we got extras, you can have it.

              Additionally Texas has a program through the Forest Service similar to your states. Industry can donate equipment to be distributed to the TFS and not assume any liability, but it still takes too long for a department that needs it.


              • #8
                One word



                • #9
                  its good that your dept has learned the ways around the laws, it benefits everyone,and may even save lives.
                  there has been bills introduced in many places and there are studies going on about relieving liability for donating parties,
                  specific bills are being introduced in some states concerning only fire equipment and gear,
                  many depts, even tax supported, just take the things off their inventory sheet and give them away, of course after they have something else to replace it,
                  in missouri, the fire marshalls office will take donations in their name, and then let an organization like ours have it to give away. or you can do hold harmless agreements or do the throw away or anonomous donation, or in the case of some apparatus, some people are doing a $1 sale, sold as is where is, no liability involved,
                  as far as the "worries" many depts first question is "what about liability" when we explain the many ways around that, they usually drop their worries.
                  and yes, the forestry service route is an option , but the waiting list is over a year behind.
                  my dept is partially tax supported, but it is up to us , not any council or board, if we decide to give something away. laws vary around the country but it is good to see great depts such as yours , doing the right thing, and you should be proud of what you are doing, keep up the good work !
                  TYLER www.fire-ems.net/firedept/view/WeinerAR www.helpingourown.com


                  • #10
                    I am from one of those Depts., and you are all pretty much right. Due to a severe lack of a tax base as well as political support
                    my Dept was started by roughly 20 men who wanted to protect thier homes. Everything they started with was donated to them. We are a not for profit fire incorperation.
                    Even so few as a few years ago we acceptted a used second hand FMC because our old maxim blew a head gasket and intake manifold.

                    Anyway we love to help other depts just as we ourselves have been helped, and we remember that. Besides if at all possible your mutual aide companys take your surplus you still kind of have use of that stuff if you really needed it, right.


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