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Monday, December 7, 2015

Consumer Warning - Telephone Solicitators may not be who you think

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

The Holiday Season is always a good time to donate to worthy causes with most people willing to donate to their favorite charity.  Unfortunately, it is also the time of year that scammers will try to obtain those donations under fraudulent circumstances.  The Prince George’s County Fire/Emergency Medical Services Department has been made aware of a possible phone scam from an unknown individual or group representing themselves as members of the Fire/EMS services seeking donations.
The Department has received inquiries from the public asking if we are familiar with a group identifying themselves as the “National Firefighters and Paramedics” or the “Burn Foundation.”   The group asks for donations via credit card, checks or cash which the group is willing to come by your house or place of business to pick-up.

The group is using a variety of phone numbers and when called back, an out-of-service message is received.  They may be spoofing numbers to show up on your caller ID so you think they are legitimate.  Some of the exchanges used are 240-394-XXXX, 301-804-XXXX and 301-329-XXXX.  Several volunteer and paid members of our fire service have been contacted by this group.  Our members quickly recognized the scam, hung up and reported the call.

The problem with alerting consumers to this possible telephone scam is that there are legitimate charitable organizations that depend on telephone solicitation as a form of fundraising.  The Prince George’s County Professional Firefighters and Paramedics Association Local 1619 is one of those organizations. 

If in doubt as to the authenticity of the calling charity it is best to decline the opportunity to donate to telephone solicitors and donate directly to the charity of your choice.  One example is to stop by your local fire/EMS station and make a charitable donation to them directly.  A list of Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Stations can be found by clicking here.  Most of our volunteer entities do a mailing or door-to-door campaign for donations.  For example, the volunteer members at the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad, Inc. in North College Park are scheduled to go door-to-door this Saturday, December 12, seeking donations.

Charitable donations to the IAFF Local 1619 can be mailed directly to them at:

IAFF Local 1619
16701 Melford Boulevard Suite 124
Bowie, Maryland 20715

Any questions about their telephone campaign can be directed to 301-805-5300

The District of Columbia Fire Fighters Burn Foundation is a legitimate charitable organization and are not using any form of telephone solicitation.  To learn more about this valuable organization, click here.

Please be extremely discretionary and careful when donating to a supposed charity over the phone.

For additional tips on telephone and other scams please visit the Maryland Attorney Generals Page here and the Federal Trade Commission here.

Volunteer Fire/EMS Company provides kick-start to Wreaths Across America This Weekend

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930
mebrady@co.pg.md.us     @PGFDPIO

This Saturday, December 12, a convoy of tractor-trailers will arrive at Arlington National Cemetery.  The trucks have been travelling all week to reach Arlington to join with hundreds of volunteers that place Christmas Wreaths at grave sites of our fallen military.  For the 10th year the Wreaths Across America (WAA)  convoy will start their day at the Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad, Inc. in College Park, MD. 

This week of events is made possible by thousands of volunteers who organize local ceremonies, raise funds to sponsor wreaths, and participate in the events.  The cost of the programs is paid by individual wreaths sponsors, corporate donors and volunteer truckers. 

Have you ever thought about where dozens of tractor-trailers carrying thousands of wreaths stay the night before??  Where does this huge convoy start from??  Where do the hundreds of staff and drivers eat breakfast before making the final leg of their long journey??

A local volunteer fire department in Prince George’s County, Maryland plays a key role in assisting WAA reach their final destination at Arlington National Cemetery.   The Branchville Volunteer Fire Company and Rescue Squad and their Ladies Auxiliary in College Park, MD, put in a weeks worth of work into a very short period of time to honor the staff and volunteers that honor our fallen heroes.

The all-volunteer fire company, for the 10th consecutive year, will start to park dozens of Wreaths Across America tractor trailers and support vehicles on Friday, December 11.   The trucks are expected to arrive as early as 10:30 am on Friday.  The WAA convoy departure on Saturday morning is quite impressive and starts off with breakfast cooked by the Branchville Volunteers.

Ronald Leizear Sr., President of the Branchville Volunteer Company, stated, "The membership looks forward to this event every year and participate willingly with a smile on their face.  We understand the mission of remembrance and honor of our fallen at Arlington National Cemetery and we are doing our small part to help make that happen."

For the fifth year the Branchville membership including the Ladies Auxiliary will provide breakfast to the staff and drivers.  This year, we are planning on over 500 people for breakfast. Volunteers will start prepping the meal at midnight Friday into Saturday morning.  WAA staff start to arrive at around 4:00 am to enjoy breakfast.  The fire station banquet hall becomes a very active place until around 7:30 – 7:45 am when the trucks start their process of lining up for an escorted trip from Branchville Fire/EMS Station to Arlington.

This event provides a very unique opportunity for media to talk with the primary participants and organizers of Wreaths Across America in a calm and quiet setting.  Several boxes of wreaths will be opened and on display Friday as they are stacked for distribution on Saturday morning at Arlington.  The breakfast provided by the Branchville Volunteers is truly an amazing effort and really cannot be put into words, you have to see it to believe it.

It is expected that the 1st Lady of Maine, Anne LePage, will attend the Branchville Breakfast and join the convoy to Arlington.

Overview of Upcoming Presentation by PGFD Chief Bashoor at NFFF Sprinkler Symposium

You can press the pause button to spend more time on a slide.

This is an overview of a presentation that Prince George's County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor will be making at the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Sprinkler Symposium the week of December 7th.