Volunteer fire departments push for ‘fire service fee’ in Franklin County

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FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Franklin County has 13 volunteer fire departments. However, none of them receive any funding, other than the occasional grant.

"If we don't get grants, we're on our own," said East Franklin Volunteer Fire Department chief Rodney Alexander. "We have to do it our self. We have to have fundraisers in order to keep our fire departments going. We have some individuals that pay their fire fees on a yearly basis, but it's not everyone. So, it's tough."

Alexander said chicken dinners and fish fries are not cutting it anymore. He said there are a handful of departments in Franklin County that are fighting fires with equipment that is substandard.

"They need to be able to have the equipment that they need to get out there and fight a fire safely," Alexander stressed, "and since they're volunteers, go home to their families after this fire or emergency is over with."
Alexander said their lack of money is also hurting their recruiting, because becoming even an unpaid fire fighter is expensive.
"You have the expense of suiting that individual up so they can safely fight that fire."
The department has a closet full of old suits, and that's about it. Alexander said if they don't fit a new recruit, it would cost almost $2,000 to outfit a new fire fighter.
So, they introduced a bill for Franklin County voters to decide on November 2016. It would provide 'fire service fees'. They would vote in one of 13 districts, for the 13 fire departments in the county.
"If one district votes for it and passes it, then that particular fire department will receive funds on a yearly basis."
Alexander wants voters to educate themselves on the issue, because volunteer fire departments play a big role in saving lives in Franklin County.