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Calls from Firefighters Assistance Fund cause concern

December 26, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

The association that represents Washington County fire and rescue departments wants to distance itself from an organization that has solicited donations in the county.

The Firefighters Assistance Fund Inc. maintains a Hagerstown address, but is not affiliated with the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association or any local fire or rescue departments, said Brigette Heller, an administrative assistant at the local association.

The county Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association is an umbrella organization that represents the county's emergency departments and does not solicit donations, Heller said. Only the local departments ask for donations.

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Annabelle Mowen, 67, of Huyetts Crossroads, said she recently received a call from the Firefighters Assistance Fund, and said she would donate money, thinking it was connected to a local department.

But when she spoke with a firefighter she knew, he said her local department wasn't seeking donations at the time.

"I had no idea that it (the money) was going elsewhere," Mowen said. "I think we have a right to know who we're giving" money to.

Heller said donations are a major source of funds for local rescue departments, but it's important to know who is getting the money.

"We really depend on the community's support," Heller said. The Firefighters Assistance Fund callers "don't support us - any of the departments - here in the county whatsoever, at all."

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