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Confusion over fundraising mailers asking for volunteer time, money for local fire departments

Some local fire departments are sounding the alarm over an apparent fundraising scam.

Hales Corners and Grafton Fire Departments posted this week on their Facebook pages warning the public of a fraud.

The posts said a letter is being sent to people from the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance, asking for either volunteer time or money.

The fire departments made it clear they have no relationship with the Alliance and are unaware of any fundraiser.

CBS 58 verified the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in Tennessee.

Alan Bohms, the executive director, says the organization creates nationally broadcast PSAs urging people to volunteer for their local fire departments.

The solicitation letter doesn’t say donations will go to local fire departments; it says the money is for the Alliance’s national recruitment effort.

Despite that, Bohms says the confusion has been enough to make a change.

“We stopped the letters after getting some feedback and we’re going to revamp them and in the future send them out with a different format, different wording,” he said.

He also says he’s sorry local fire departments took this the wrong way.

“I can’t explain why departments will just post something like that on Facebook without trying to get to the bottom of it first,” Bohms said.

Bohms said if someone were to respond to the letter saying they’d like to volunteer, that’s when the Alliance would reach out to the local department and try to put the two parties in touch.

On the Alliance’s website, there is a letter from Wisconsin State Rep. Katrina Shankland, thanking the organization for donating 250 smoke alarms and batteries to volunteer fire departments in Central Wisconsin.

Shankland’s office confirmed the donation.

Neither the Hales Corners nor the Grafton Fire Departments could be reached for this story.

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