Colbert County firefighter’s get creative when raising money for their departments

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TUSCUMBIA, Ala. (WHNT) – They are the men and women who respond at a moment’s notice to fires, medical calls and car wrecks. To help with funding their volunteer fire departments, they’ve had to get a bit creative.

A vacant parking lot at the intersection of U.S. Highways 72 and 43 is hosting a circus Friday night and Saturday afternoon. It`s a benefit for the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department.

“Chicken stews are just overdone,” stated Carlton Utley with the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department. “Chicken stews, fish frys and we were not doing very good with them. So, we do our rodeo in July and we`re going to be doing the circus every April.”

It takes a lot of community support to keep a volunteer fire department functioning.

“These funds are vital for our operation to maintain equipment, to continue to update our firefighting equipment as well as our rescue equipment,” Utley explained.

Volunteer fire departments get some funding through property taxes, but it`s only enough to cover basic costs. If they need a new truck or piece of rescue equipment, then it`s up to them to raise the money.

“You constantly have to update equipment, nozzles, hoses, extrication equipment, saws and turnouts,” said Utley. “One set of turnouts for a firefighter can run anywhere between $3,000 and $7,000.”

They`re hoping these camels and horses will be able to draw large enough crowds to keep their department going.

The Zerbini Family Circus has two shows set for Saturday afternoon in Tuscumbia at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The circus is located at the corner of U.S. Highways 43 and 72. Tickets for adults are $15 at the door, and proceeds go to the Spring Valley Volunteer Fire Department.