Firefighter Fundraising Causes Problems In Baltimore County

TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — There’s a fundraising firestorm in Baltimore County between career and volunteer firefighters.

Andrea Fujii explains how it all centers on who’s getting the money.

Baltimore County professional firefighters are fired up after the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association sent out a news release warning the public about misleading telemarketers who are fundraising for professional firefighters.

“They may lead people to believe that the dollars are going to the volunteer fire company, when in fact they’re going to the professional firefighters’ union,” said volunteer firefighter Chuck Bollinger.

And that’s upset the union, who adamantly disagrees.

“There’s nothing scandalous about it. There’s no scams going on,” said professional firefighter Michael Day.

Career firefighters have been calling for donations since 1990 and on average receive $100,000, much of which they say buys smoke detectors for the community. Volunteer firefighters say if you want to donate to them, they only fundraise through mailers and go door-to-door. They say that unlike professional firefighters, who get more funding, they need donations to survive.

“This has caused a huge conflict between the union and between the volunteers and obviously I don’t want that,” Bollinger said.

The one thing both sides agree on: their main goal is to save lives and no feud will compromise that.

“You call 911 in Baltimore County, you’re gonna get help. It’s just unfortunate it’s come to this,” Day said.

Bollinger, the Baltimore County Volunteer Firemen’s Association president, says he knows at least six people who say they’ve been confused, donating by phone to the professional firefighters when they thought they were giving to the volunteers.

The firefighters’ union says the telemarketers who call on their behalf are limited to a script and are disciplined if they stray from that script.

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