Saturday, December 20, 2014

Volunteer Fire Departments Struggle with High Equipment Costs, Small Budgets
By Brittany Bivins

It's been a tough few years for local volunteer fire departments, who are trying to fill high equipment costs with smaller budgets.

For volunteer fire departments in Pike County, fundraising is a necessity to raise enough money to continue operating. That's especially true in small communities, where the nearest fire station could be 20 miles away.

In Pike County, each of the nine volunteer firefighting departments survives on between $700 and $900 a month.

"We're holding on, but not by a very big thread, kind of a small thread, but we're doing our best," said John Register, President of the Pike County Firefighters Assocation.

"Equipment is so expensive, we're lacking with some areas of what we call turnout gear, what we would put on to fight a fire," said Tripp Walters with the Meeksville Volunteer Fire Department.

On Saturday, firefighters held a turkey shoot to raise money for Meeksville. One of their trucks needs a new engine, but there's not a lot of money in the budget for it. "It takes what we can, a lot of times those of us take it out of our pockets to get the equipment," said Walters.

This all comes after the state legislature refused to allow a vote on November's ballot for a 2-mil property tax, which would have helped support the fire departments. "It hurt real bad to know that we didn't get the chance for the people in the city, in the county, to vote on the tax to fund the fire departments throughout the county," said Register.

If you want to help out your local volunteer fire department, firefighters say the best thing to do is go to fundraisers, and give what you can to support them.