Would the powers to be allow an annual fire fee? For each house/ business and if not paid they are charged per run?
Our community has a little less than 300 people in it, and most are elderly.
We have had fish fry fundraisers, and they generally do well on Fridays or Saturdays. We typically avoid the middle of summer, as a lot of the elderly folks in the community don't like to get out in extreme hot or cold. With a menu of fried fish, french fries, hush puppies, cole slaw, potato salad, beans and dessert, it is pretty easy to cook. Many of our members have frying equipment, and food can be made fast and served fresh. We have had really good luck with swai, which is similar to catfish, but with some big advantages. First, it is milder tasting, so people that like fish but not catfish will generally like swai. Also, I have yet to have a piece that tasted muddy, like some catfish, and a few pieces of muddy tasting catfish can ruin a good fish fry. Lastly, the last time we used it, we could get it through the distributor for about 1/2 the price of catfish. Hunting is big here, so we try to plan our fundraisers around hunting season, when we generally have four to five times the population.
We have also done gun fundraisers and sold tickets.
Our best fundraiser is probably direct mailing. We get a list of all the landowners from the tax district, and mail letters to everyone. If we have any particular needs or have had a hard fire season, we mention that in the letter. As a general rule, always try to have a specific reason for fundraising. If it is new bunker gear or a new truck, whatever, include pictures and posters of what you are after with an explanation of why you need it and how much you need to raise to obtain it. The more people know, the more they give.
We also created a Facebook page to just keep everyone in the community informed when we do pretty much anything. It opened a lot of people's eyes into how much work actually goes on at the Fire Hall, and helps build support.
We do raffles all the time and my department is in Kansas. Its not like the county attorney is going to prosecute the Fire Dept for doing a raffle.
Have a steak feed, sell tickets for $50 a person and make it all you can eat and drink except for alcohol, then set up a bar and actually charge for the beer.
If nobody will donate the beef and other food I would at least hope a local grocer would give you a nice discount if you publicly thanked them. If you sell 50 tickets that's a pretty nice chunk of money....not to mention the beer you sell!
You should send letters to the bigger departments in the state like Wichita, Shawnae Mission, Salina, Topeka and see what they do with there used/surplus gear, I know of a town in western Kansas and that got all knew 4 inch supply hose when a large department upgraded to 5 in supply.
Just my thoughts from a local Kansas Fireman..........