Sexy ‘fun-ding’ in the North American fire services in 2022
Volunteers are doing whatever it takes to fund their future
So you're checking out your local fire department website, and your eyes come across this:
“Vibrators, Bondage, Swings, Lotions, Sex Games, Wedges & Beads!
… and when you get hungry, be sure to enjoy: Perfect Partner Flatbread Pizza, Gyrating Grilled Meatball Sandwich, Balls Deep Side of Meatballs and some Butter My Biscuit Garlic Bread!
… and BE SURE to leave room for dessert including their delicious Cookie Nookie Waffle Sundae and Caress My Cannoli Dip!
The Harwood Fire Company (Pennsylvania) will be hosting a hot and steamy Valentine's Day-inspired, six-nine, damn fine, good ole' bangin' time sex toy bingo on February 5th, 2022. Bring your wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, or side piece.”
Of course you do a double-take because you would never search for sex or visit any websites even related to such debauchery. Not you.
So what is this all about?
Perhaps, like me, you saw these recent posts by this fire company hosting adult-themed fire department fundraising. And perhaps some of you were upset, shocked, angry or displeased. Or not.
Actually, unless you live in that fire company's service area, it really doesn't affect you. Butt out.
Honestly, I enjoyed it and thought that their creativity was definitely thinking outside the box. After all, while I've enjoyed meatball sandwiches, I have never had a gyrating one. Can't wait!
This comes back to the same issue. The Harwood Fire Company is just one of thousands of underfunded volunteer fire departments or companies in North America doing whatever it takes to fund their own operation.
I mean seriously, consider the "business" model of so many volunteer firehouses:
- We will work for free, 24/7/365;
- We will raise our own funds so we can buy the equipment so we can work for free;
- We will do pretty much whatever it takes to raise our own funds so that we can work for free;
- We have provided this free work and bought our own equipment for years and the public has gotten used to this benefit – at little to no cost; and
- While in the "good old days" of door-to-door fundraising, boot drives and turkey dinners were able to fund our fire equipment, it doesn't quite do the trick when purchasing a $500,000 basic pumper.
No funding + no staffing = no fire department
The "business" of traditional volunteer fire and rescue is going out of business. We see VFDs dropping or merging every day. There are two major factors fully engaged in destroying the volunteer fire service:
As far as funding, many volunteer departments still do things the old-fashioned way, raising funds themselves. Some of the OG members don't like the idea of accepting tax dollars; they like the "independence" of doing what the membership wants with no one looking over their shoulder. Get past that. You can't run a fire company by doing ham dinners (and your Gen Z members don't know how to cook a ham). This approach might have worked when a pumper cost $20,000. Those days are gone.
Be it taxes or fundraising, you collect the money with the agreement to use it to provide service. It's that simple. So let's agree that the money is for service. Let's also agree that it is impossible in 2022 to fundraise enough (other than in some really really wealthy communities where residents are writing checks for thousands) to run even the most basic VFD.
In speaking with the president of the Harwood Fire Company, he made it clear: "Without our fundraising, we would cease to exist." And while they get a small amount of annual funds from their township, raising their own funds is what they must do to serve their community.
Imagine the cops, schools, public works or the roads department having to raise their own funds so they can work for free. Sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? Because it is.
Time to pay the piper
The answer is for those in every community served by volunteers to pay taxes. Plain and simple. Sure, you will have to be more accountable. Yep. For every dollar, you will have to account – no different than you demanding other forms of government not piss away your own hard-earned taxes. But now, with a tax base (push for a fire tax so it cannot get diluted and lost in other local government projects), you will be able to fund the needed equipment to fairly provide that service … while still working for free.
To ask your members to do any more than regularly train and respond on runs is a model that is not working in most areas and will not work in the future. Every day there are examples of VFDs simply shutting down. Some because of the extra duties (like fundraising) that members don't have time for. Some because we "eat our own" in how we treat our members who volunteer to be there. And some simply because people don't have time to join volunteer fire departments anymore.
That is the rule, but there are exceptions. There are a few volunteer departments doing well (many moving toward in-house duty crews), and we'll talk about them and their "secrets" in an upcoming column.
However, the vast majority of volunteer departments are in trouble, and one solution to ease the burden is to tax those expecting the service, especially if they won't join. Something’s gotta give.
The volunteer firefighters at the Harwood Fire Company are very creative and certainly edgy in doing whatever it takes to fund their operation. The bottom line, however, is that they shouldn’t have to do that – no matter how fun or unique the fundraising.
I don't know about you, but I am thinking about taking my wife and visiting the crew at Harwood for Valentine's Day. But according to their leadership, I better hurry and buy a ticket, as they are almost completely sold out.