The Heilbron Springs Volunteer Fire Department is still in need of donations to finish the expansion of its fire station and to purchase a new tanker.

The expansion involves adding a third bay to the fire station to accommodate a tanker truck leased to the firefighters by the Division of Forestry (DOF).

DOF leases vehicles to most of the volunteer stations in the area, providing the county with pieces of expensive equipment at little or no cost to local taxpayers. The tanker has been leased to the station for some time, but according to Fire Chief Terry McCarthy, the volunteer department has not previously had the money to build the additional bay required to house the vehicle out of the elements.


The slab has been poured and the concrete block walls have been raised, but more funding is needed for the trusses and the roof. Approximately $5,000 is needed to complete the bay.


McCarthy said building the bay is important because it will save the county money in the long run. "If we can keep our equipment out of the weather, then we'll be cutting down on the cost of repairs and maintenance," said McCarthy.


A tanker that is 20 years newer than the one Heilbron currently uses - and which will carry more water - is available for a cost of $15,000. The tanker will become available within the next year, which gives the volunteers time to raise the needed funding. A new tanker would cost three to four times as much.


The 17-by-40 concrete block bay is waiting to be finished. Anyone who wishes to view the work can come by the fire station on SR-16 near the Heilbron Springs Baptist Church at any time.


None of the funds to expand the station came from county coffers, said McCarthy. The county does fund the following items for volunteer fire departments:


* Both auto liability and worker's compensation insurance.


* Costs for equipment like radios, etc.


* Costs for supplies like fire suppressing foam, etc.


* Repairs and maintenance on the vehicles and equipment.


* Utility costs associated with the six VFD stations, etc.


* And other items.


In 2003 the budget for all six stations was $90,000, or $15,000 per station for the year. If a volunteer station is located inside the city limits of any city in the county, the city council usually also funds a portion of the operating costs, as does the city of Lawtey, for example.


Stations like Heilbron Springs, Sampson City, New River and Theressa, however, have no assistance from any entity except the county and donations they collect from the people who live in the area the station serves.


McCarthy said a number of businesses and individuals in the county have assisted with the expansion project by either donating labor or materials.


Additional money is needed as soon as possible, however. McCarthy said the volunteers are asking residents in the area the station serves to donate just 10 cents per day or $36.50 per year. However, any amount will be gladly accepted, McCarthy said. Donations are tax deductible. Anyone who would like to make a donation can send a check made to the Heilbron Springs Volunteer Fire Department at 21412 NW SR-16, Starke, FL., 32091.



©Bradford County Telegraph 2003