I am doing a project on a fire dept near where I live.It is a rural volunteer FD with six or so stations. They are mostly using fire knockers on F 350 bodies. Their response time is poor and the dept is rife with politics. The county doesn't support it properly. Of course 40% of the houses are manufactured homes and it is a blue collar bedroom county near Macon GA with a 51% illegitimacy rate. So they are a little impoverished.
I propose two things: one is to have a 501(c)3 corporation as a part paid dept with two men at a station. This would be just one station in an underserved area and would rely on subscriptions or billing of the unsubscribed.
The other is to have the county levy a modest tax to contract with a provider for a fee and have the stations staffed partly with volunteers- a departure from the norm.
The gear would be much better and the county would foot the bill for building modest quarters in this scenario. A tanker and a second hand Pirsch/E one pumper would round out the rolling stock.
Any ideas would be welcome.
KA Turner, MS
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08-07-1999, 02:12 AM #1katurnerFirehouse.com Guest
Private station or dept wide contract svc for poor county?
08-07-1999, 09:28 PM #2Dalmation90Firehouse.com Guest
There's no reason that the FD couldn't be a 501(c)3 and be tax supported...that's how we're organized, and "technically" the annual town appropriation is a "grant" to us to provide the service.
Irrespective of us nominally being an independent organization, we're still subject to Freedom of Information rules and worker's compensation paid directly by the Town and some other state regs just like a municipal department.
But it does give us added flexibility in fund raising, keeping donations, owning property in our name (rather than the town), etc.
Done right, with really good and dedicated people, there's no reason a small paid core can't help create a very vital and active volunteer organization. Yes, in the South most areas don't have the traditions of the Northeast and it's volunteer departments. But a good organization is always something rewarding to belong to. For example, the paid crews can organize day-time drills to attract people who work second or third shift and are available during the day but not in the evening for drills.
Clearly if you want to keep the vollies, you have to let them know they're valuable, they're appreciated, and they will play a major role on an equal footing in the new organization.
As for stations, that's really wide open, but I prefer a single central station that people all respond to, rather than running to one station, discovering the trucks are gone, head to the next, etc. It also keeps everyone on the same "page" by making them all socialize together at the same station.
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