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Thread: financing FDs

  1. #1
    Junior Member
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    Mar 2005

    Default financing FDs

    Does anyone know if/how FDs are financed through grant money of some sort or by community involvement? Are there alternative sources of revenue that can be explored or that have been explored to finance FDs? Thanks.

  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber UTFFEMT's Avatar
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    Nov 1999
    Park City, Utah


    Most Fd's are Financed thru general Tax Revenues from your localTown , City, County.
    Front line since 1983 and still going strong

  3. #3
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
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    Mar 2000


    Short answer: Yes.

    Medium answer: There are nearly as many variations of fire department funding as there are established governments in the U.S.

    Longer answer:

    Fire protection in the U.S. is funded in a large variety and combination of ways.

    -- Organizations funded by one or a few individuals.

    -- Organizations that operate solely on donations.

    -- Organizations that are operated by a private company to protect it's own assests, and will also protect those nearby.

    -- Organizations that operate on subscriptions (you don't subscribe, it's not our problem)

    -- Organizations that combine tax support with various forms of private fundraisers

    Private fundraisers can include
    -- Parking cars at a local fair/events
    -- Chicken Barbecues
    -- Shrimp Fries
    -- Steak Dinners
    -- Bingo Games
    -- Money Wheels
    -- Pull-ticket Gambling Games
    -- Motorcycle/Car/Truck/ATV/Snowmobile Lotterys
    -- Beer Tents & Beer Fests
    -- Owning a bar
    -- Owning rental property
    -- Having investment income
    -- Filling swimming pools
    -- Burning brush
    -- Cleaning Chimneys
    -- And a list probably three times as long of things I've personally heard or seen and forgetten
    -- And a list probably ten times as long of things I've never heard of!

    -- Billing of receipients of service
    Including and not limited to:
    Ambulance Transports
    Medical First Response
    Fire Response (Time & Materials)
    Haz-Mat Response
    Technical Rescues
    Wilderness Rescues

    -- Tax Support:
    Tax support can range widely from:
    -- Mill-rate Real Estate Taxes (varies with the value of your property)
    (Mill rates can further be divided between places where a set tax rate is adopted by voters, and that stays constant regardless of increases/decreases in the value of property...i.e. $1 per $1000 and if assesments go up, woo hoo more money for the FD, v. places where the annual budget is divided into the total assesment to establish a mill rate -- i.e. as values go up, mill rate goes down, same amount of money is raised each year, plus any increases in funding approved)
    (Valuation based mill rates can further be divided into areas that have placed artificial caps on assessments -- i.e. systems like California Proposition 13 which prevents re-appraisals except at time of sale or other strict requirements and sets up a situation where two neighbors may have identical houses and both pay, say, $10 per $1000 in taxes -- but one neighbor bought the house 20 years ago and pays $800 on a assesment of $80,000...and the neighbor who bought last year pays $5,000 on an assesment of $500,000)

    -- Parcel-based Real Estate Taxes (set fee, say $50, for each lot of land owned or something like $50 for each unimproved and $100 for each improved lot -- whether it's a 1/4 acre with a delipated trailer home or a 10 acre auto dealership...)

    -- Local Sales Taxes
    -- Local Income Taxes
    -- Local You-name-what-we-can-think-of Taxes

    -- State taxes of all forms, either directly or in support of the Fire Departments (i.e. building regional training centers that are operated with local funds, etc; operating State Fire Training Commissions, State Fire Marshal Offices, State Foresty Departments, etc, etc, etc that support local fire protection)
    One particular state tax of note is "Foreign Insurance" taxes that assess property insurance companies based in another state.
    Another important state tax is E-911 fees on telephone bills used to fund 911 operations.

    -- Federal taxes of all forms, going into a variety of programs from research to education to direct grants to fire departments and/or grants to local municipalities to be passed through to the FD.
    Major grant/similiar programs include:
    Federal Excess Property Loans via your State Forester
    Volunteer Fire Assistance grants via your State Forester
    Rural Communities Development grants via USDA
    Small Cities Block Grants via HUD
    Department of Homeland Money Wasting equipment distributions

    -- Organizations funded by Indian Casinos

    Mix and match from the above list, add in a healthy list of other stuff, and you have how fire protection is funded in America.

    ============================== ==
    Getting more specific, my fire company:
    -- Grants for operations & capital from the Town, funded from property taxes
    -- Fundraising moneys (Chicken BBQ, Parking Cars, Bingo, and Golf Tournament)
    -- Donations, mostly memorials & bequeaths
    -- Billing for Ambulance Service
    -- At one time, rental income (which BTW we had to pay real estate & income taxes on that property since it didn't meet the requirements of the 501(c)3 non-profit status of the rest of the organization!)

    Within the last several years we've received money from VFA, FIREAct, Small Cities, and Rural Communities (yeah, I don't understand how we're both either!).

    The Town pays certain expenses, mainly workers compensation insurance, directly.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  4. #4
    Forum Member Co11FireGal's Avatar
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    Feb 2002
    Country Roads, Take Me Home...



    I can't do any better than Dalmatian90 has done in listing all of the sources...in many cases, this question will take you back to your career vs. volunteer thread...many volunteer departments are not very well funded by local or county government. I'll use my department as an example, along with the one paid department in my county...

    My department is funded minimally by a fee that piggybacks residents' water bills. Each household in Town pays $5 per month on their water bill for fire protection. The Town forwards those funds to us twice yearly. Is that enough to operate on? Nope. Barely enough to pay a single truck payment. We receive no funding from the county, well I take that back...there is talk that there may be a $13,000 grant given to volunteer depts. in the county this year, but that is to be divided up between 13 depts...a whole $1,000...wow ... the state provides some funding, which is dependent upon us reporting to NFIRS and obeying all other state rules and regs. That helps but is still not enough to operate on. We have applied for federal grants, but have never received one, so no funding on the fed. level. About 70% or so of our money comes from fundraisers that we hold...elimination dinners, basket bingo's, you name it...as for private funding, not really, we may get $500 a year in donations.

    City fire, on the other hand, is fully funded by city fire fees and taxes, receives some state funding, and has been awarded federal grants over, and over, and over again (yeah, I'm a little bitter about that right now but I'll get over it).

    No paid dept. that I know of anywhere close to me does any kind of fundraising to supplement their operating budget, because they seem to get plenty...and anyway, it's not their job to raise funds. The exception is charity fundraisers...gata hand it to them, they always do well for Jerry's Kids.
    Last edited by Co11FireGal; 03-11-2005 at 07:58 PM.

    "And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap it if we do not lose heart."

  5. #5
    Senior Member Dalmatian90's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000


    My department is funded minimally by a fee that piggybacks residents' water bills.

    Which tickles my memory cells -- I said there was a bunch of financing methods I'd forgotten.

    Manchester, CT 8th Utilities District basically does two things -- provides Sewers & Fire Protection.

    The FD is funded via the sewer bills.

    Flush away.
    IACOJ Canine Officer

  6. #6
    Forum Member SpartanGuy's Avatar
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    Aug 2004


    My combo department is supported by municipal taxes. We recieve, from our municipality, money for expenses to the tune of $350,000 a year, that covers all of our insurance and other expenses. They also provide the salaries for five paid firefighters(including yours truly).

    We do a fund drive every year, as well, and last year we brought in around $45,000. That averages out to approximately $3 per person, though, and includes a number of big donations from commercial occupancies(a plastic factory gave us $5,000 to acquire our stepgun, and is doing the same this year for our other engine, for example).

    Our township just enacted an emergency services tax of $52 per person employed within our juristiction once per year. It's supposed to bring in roughly $520,000, though that has to be split between three municipal departments(police, road, and fire).
    "Captain 1 to control, retone this as a structure and notify the fire chief...."

    Safety is no accident.

  7. #7
    Forum Member fftrainer's Avatar
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    Feb 1999
    Northern, NJ


    My area is generally set up one of two ways...

    1. Funded out of the general tax base of the Municipality in question

    2. Funded through fire districts where there is more or less a Fire Tax in addition to your regular tax. How the figure is determined?? I have no idea since we operate under option number 1.

    We subsidize with private fundraisers (dinners, flea-markets, etc) going to our fund for items such as uniforms, casual clothing (job shirts, hats, t-shirts, etc) as well as administrative expenses such as office supplies.

    In our case building maintenance is municipality's responsibility however some depts in my area own their building and agree to 'allow' the municipality to house apparatus there.

  8. #8
    MembersZone Subscriber fieldseng2's Avatar
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    May 2002
    St. Louis, MO


    Can't add too much to what has been listed...

    Anything above and beyond what residental and commercial properties pay in their normal taxes has met heavy resistance here...

    Demands for all city services has drastically increased in the past several years, but even w/out the tax fiasco going on here...it still would not be enough to keep up w/demands..

    I like the idea of $5/month to the water bill..It would generate over $600,000 in extra revenue a year...thats just from single family dwellings units...We also have a heavy retail corridor, lots of apt./condo units, and now a huge light industry complex moving in. That could very likey generate well over 1 mil.

    Business licenses would be another option. We have tried this one before, but the local Chamber threw a hissy fit and the city caved. I'm sorry, but I believe if a business, no matter how big or small, can not afford a $50-$100/year business license..then they have bigger problems. I doubt Wal-Mart, SAMs, Target, or our huge mall would leave town over that. Even the hometown businesses that have been here for years and years would eventually understand. Besides, everyone knows it would be passed down to the consumer. Would I stop shopping/dinning at those places?? No.

    Our Fire Prevention Division has a hard time w/enforcement...They can write up all the citations they want, but they have little bite. Another option would be fines for non-compliance. That would be a double winner...revenue plus motivation for compliance. Nothing huge...$25-$50 for each non-compliance citation.

    In the same line...nominal fees for sprinkler and alarm testing/inspections. There are a number of other things for a small fee could help pay the bills.

    These are ideas we are looking into. Our first hurdle is how do we sell the idea to the public. There is definately a need for additional revenue. Would these ideas solve all our problems? Probably not, but they could help off-set some of the cost that it takes to run a necessary service to the community.


  9. #9
    MembersZone Subscriber fieldseng2's Avatar
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    May 2002
    St. Louis, MO



    Check out the National Fire Academy website. There is a forum called TRADENET. They can give you alot more advice on this subject as well.


  10. #10
    MembersZone Subscriber fieldseng2's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2002
    St. Louis, MO


    Here ya go:


    The Training Resources and Data Exchange (TRADE) program is a regionally based network designed to foster the exchange of fire-related training information and resources among Federal, State, and local levels of government.


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