Firefighter unions urging donors to avoid scam charities

boston fire memorial boylston street kennedy walsh
The memorial outside the Boylston Street firehouse where Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy worked.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

In the rush to help the families of the two fallen Boston firefighters multiple charities sprouted online, but fire officials want to make clear that not all of those efforts were created with kindness in mind. 

In recent days, the Professional Firefighters Association of Massachusetts and Local 718 have shared pictures on their social media pages of charity scams.

“There are some people selling T-shirts and giving to the fund, but when others sell T-shirts and don’t give [money] to the fund, that’s pretty bad. It’s low. If someone is trying to make money off my two brother firefighters … I’m pretty mad at it,” said Rich Paris, president of Local 718, the Boston firefighters union.

While the attorney general’s office has received no complaints about a particular firefighter fundraising scam, the unions have posted images of donation pages that they said are scams and improperly used union logos on shirts.

Lt. Edward Walsh and Firefighter Michael Kennedy were killed last Wednesday after they became trapped in the basement of a Beacon Street home that caught fire. The investigation into the 9-alarm blaze is ongoing. The funerals for the firemen are set for later this week.

The Boston Fire Department also urged people to donate only to credible charities.

“It is unfortunate that people would use this tragedy for profit. Please do not support any unofficial fundraising efforts,” the department said on its Facebook page.

An official fund has been set up through the Boston Firefighters Credit Union. Donations to the Lieutenant Walsh – Firefighter Kennedy Memorial Fund can be made online at

The attorney general’s office has tips for people to give wisely. The office suggests that people giving over the Internet make sure that websites belong to legitimate, established and registered charities and that the website and charity match. Also, people should avoid donating through telemarketing services.

“I’m proud of my firefighters and Local 718 and I don’t want anybody making money off of the back of my brother and sister firefighters,” Paris said.

Follow Michael Naughton on Twitter @metrobosmike.


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