SISTERS, OR -- The Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District is warning residents about a letter suddenly showing up in local mailboxes. The letter from the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance starts with the headline “Sisters Area Volunteer Firefighter Drive” and describes how agencies face a crisis because of too few volunteers.
Deputy Fire Chief Tim Craig tells KBND News, "Printed at the bottom, there’s a little tear-off with check boxes, indicating whether or not someone is interested in becoming a volunteer with a local fire department. But, it’s also got some check boxes soliciting donations." It also includes a postage-paid return envelope. The problem is, according to Craig, the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District is not in dire need of volunteers, and they only recruit a couple times of year, "We only solicit for volunteer firefighters on kind of a prescribed basis, based on when we can put on volunteer recruit academies, and that sort of thing." And, he says, they alert the community through local media, their own website and social media; not direct mailings.
"I honestly don’t know anything about the organization that’s putting this out," says Craig, "I’ve never heard of them before." He says officials learned of the mailing by accident, "We found out about it when this letter was addressed to the spouse of one of our long-time volunteer fire captains."
KBND News attempted to contact the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance, which has a Tennessee mailing address and claims to be a nationwide nonprofit. However, an outgoing voice mail message says the "extension is unavailable" and does not mention a company name. Dep. Fire Chief Craig is worried some residents could be misled to believe donated funds benefit the local fire district, "We just want to make sure that it’s very clear that this did not come from the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District and that this is not something that we have sanctioned and not something that we participate in."