DOUGLAS, Ala. -- Funding from a fire district fee measure passed by some Marshall County voters in 2016 is providing new fire department equipment, a tanker, and opportunities for the community in the town of Douglas.
"We just purchased a new tanker that we ordered brand new," explained Mayor Corey Hill. "It's a $240,000 purchase."
They've only gotten a new truck once, with a FEMA grant. The new tanker replaced one from 1978.
Running a fire department isn't cheap. That's why, usually, the volunteer-run Douglas Fire Department uses second-hand equipment.
So, what's different?
"The fire fee was a game changer for the town of Douglas," Hill said. "We cannot emphasize enough how thankful we are to the community and the citizens for trusting us to vote 'yes'."
That vote was in 2016. Areas of the county with volunteer fire departments are divided into fire districts. Districts could vote on a five dollar per month, per household fee, collected in property taxes. Seven fire districts have passed the measure out of 18 since the districts were created in 2014.
The volunteer firefighters have used fundraising and grants to purchase equipment and gear, which had to be kept up-to-date. The town would supplement the stream of additional funding. Now, because of the funding coming in through the fire fee, the town has been able to put money toward quality of life, through the police department, parks and recreation, and other areas that benefit the community.
"There are other things that we can do in this community that money now frees up," Hill said.
They've also bought new equipment for the fire department. "We have bought personal protective equipment for the firefighters," Hill explained, "We have thermal imaging cameras that we've purchased."
The community's first chance to see the new truck will be in the town's Christmas parade. That's set for Monday, December 10, at 5:30. Santa will ride on the fire truck during the parade. Mrs. Claus will join him at Town Hall afterward for free hot chocolate and cookies. The public is invited.
There is also still room for entries in the parade, and it's free to do that. Prizes will be awarded to first, second, and third place winners.