Donations to Fire Departments

Organizations may offer to donate equipment to a city or town’s fire department. Once a piece of equipment is donated it becomes municipal property. The municipality must maintain the equipment and may need to insure the equipment and add it to the municipality’s asset list. As a result, the entity making the donation should work with the municipality to determine whether the donation is one that the municipality wants to accept.

Some organizations may want to donate funds to a municipality’s fire department. Sometimes these donations are solicited by the local fire relief association. The donating entity should be clearly told whether the donation is to the fire relief association or to the municipality. Under Minnesota law, a city or town fire department cannot have its own checking account. The check for the donation should be made payable to either the fire relief association or the municipality. The check should not be made out to the fire department, or confusion may arise over whether the donated funds belong to the fire relief association or the municipality.

If funds are donated to the municipality, the donor may want to provide that the funds may only be used for the fire department. Under Minnesota law, all donations to a municipality must be accepted by the city council or town board with a resolution approved by a two-thirds majority vote. Any conditions placed on the donation by the donor must be documented in the resolution.

Date this Avoiding Pitfall was most recently published: 3/26/2021