The Chatham-Kent Fire and Emergency Services Foundation received the stamp of approval by municipal council.
Chatham-Kent Fire Department Fire Chief Ken Stuebing said he was excited to move forward with this initiative, at no cost to taxpayers.
“It’s an opportunity to think outside of the box,” he told council.
Stuebing added the objective of the Foundation would be to implement a standardized process to receive, manage and recognize donations to the department.
Stuebing said there are “community-minded” people and organizations that come forward regularly to offer funds or other donations to the department, but currently there is no strategy in place on how to handle it.
Stuebing said fire departments in the United States have implemented similar ideas, with great success.
“They leveraged their brand in the community,” he said. “It will help alleviate constraints on municipal budgets.”
The foundation would coincide with the mandate of the fire department and the chief would sit on the board of directors, Stuebing said.
A Planned Giving Program would also be created, which would help supplement the annual budget.
Chatham Coun. Anne Gilbert said the fire department should “tread carefully” when dealing with the small town fire stations.
“They do a lot of fundraising in the community,” she said.
Stuebing said the plan is to work with the volunteer groups, who are well connected in the community and do a lot of good year after year.
“This is not intended to replace them,” he said.
South Kent Coun. Art Stirling said the scope of the foundation needs to be fine-tuned.
“You want to have a clear memorandum of understanding,” he said. “You want to be very specific right from the get go. People come and people go, and over time the understanding will get blurry. You have to be very careful.”
The foundation would be managed by a board of directors and governed by a terms of reference. The annual cost is estimated to be between $3,000 and $5,000, which would be covered by the foundation.