Fighting for funds
Published 2:05 pm Monday, October 2, 2006
By By Lisa Tindell – news writer
Fire trucks, pumper trucks, gasoline, testing, chemicals, turnout gear, a fire house, utilities, pagers, insurance, maintenance - all of those things cost money, and the volunteer fire departments in the Brewton area need funding.
Brush fires, vehicle accidents, traffic hazards, house and business fires, medical calls and backup calls are just some of the areas in which community volunteer fire departments are used and desperately needed.
The Dixonville Volunteer Fire Department, for example, receives approximately $1,000 monthly from the county to aid in their work, Fire Chief Joel Migas said.
With 17 responders in the Dixonville unit, liability insurance costs have increased as well as the costs involved in maintaining firefighting gear and pagers.
All volunteer fire departments have basically the same expenses, which include insurance on buildings and vehicles, upkeep on equipment, replacement of worn equipment and testing of existing equipment.
The tobacco and sales tax distribution by the county is supplemented by the Alabama Forestry Department awards an annual grant that averages approximately $1,200 per department, Moffett said.
Not only does each department have to deal with rising costs involved with their work, individual volunteers incur costs that come from their pockets and are not reimbursed by the department.
Eighty percent of volunteer firefighters in the state take a chance on out-of-pocket expenses if they are injured while responding to a call.
Currently the Dixonville VFD has one fire engine and two tankers, but recent events have shown the group that other equipment is needed.
Volunteer fire departments are called upon by larger departments for back up in many cases. If a vehicle accident or fire occurs outside the city limits of Brewton or East Brewton, area volunteer fire departments are vital in containing or minimizing damage.
Homeowners who have had the unfortunate need for firefighters may understand the importance of their presence. Homeowners who have never needed the services of firefighters may not understand the importance of having a department in their neighborhood.
Communities surrounding the greater Brewton area that have the benefit of a volunteer fire department are Dixonville, Roberts, McCall, Dixie, Bradley, Boykin/Damascus, Ridge Road, Appleton, Wallace, Barnett's Crossroad and Friendship.
Department officials said volunteer firefighters are always needed.