Rural fire fees valuable to local departments

Rural fire fees valuable to local departments

Rural fire fees are considered an important resource for all Weakley County fire departments. The money generated through the payment of fees plays an important role in each department’s ability to respond to calls out in the county.
Weakley County fire departments do still respond to calls at homes outside of the city limits. If the fees are not paid by the homeowner, it will come at a price when the smoke clears.
 By paying the annual fee property owners are covered in the event of a fire.
“If you fail to pay your rural fire subscription and the fire department does respond there will be a minimum charge of $2,500 for that call,” explained Greenfield Fire Chief Bob Dudley.
When the rural fire fee subscription is paid, the fire department only charges a $750 fee for the call. This fee is usually paid through the homeowner’s insurance policy.
 “We average anywhere from six to eight members per call,” stated Dudley. “We have to pay these people, equipment to protect our men, diesel fuel costs, insurance, wear and tear as well as replacement equipment costs on every call we respond to. It gets very expensive over the long haul because you have to take all of these costs into consideration on every time we go out.”
The City of Greenfield and Pillowville’s fees were due on February 1, but both do allow a 30-day grace period. After Thursday the departments added a $25 per month late penalty.
 “We are a very small department with about 14 members all together,” stated Pillowville Fire Chief Lynn Scarbrough.
“Our men are all completely volunteer members who serve the community and we couldn’t get by without the money collected through rural fire fees.
“Most of our turnout gear are hand-me-downs from Greenfield, Gleason and Dresden. We recently applied for a grant for new gear and were denied. A complete setup of gear is about $1,500 per individual and that is nothing fancy.”
 “We really want to get the word out about the importance of these fees,” stated Sharon Fire Chief Gary Eddings.
“Another problem we sometimes see out in the county is where people rent and the homeowners don’t pay because they don’t care about what happens to the house.
“You run into a situation where the homeowner and the renter neither have insurance on the house and we have to figure out who to charge the fees to, sometimes even ending us up in small claims court. We don’t even check to see if they have paid until we are back at the station after the fact”
Weakley County responds to all calls out in the county because there may be a life at stake.
Paying the rural fire fees ensures the homeowner is not out of pocket any additional charges and provides each department with funds needed to run their operation.
Dudley also reported it is state law to have a burning permit from Oct. 15 through May 15.
The permit is free and anyone needing to burn can call 364-2541.
For more information about rural fire fees, contact the local fire department.

WCP 3.06.12

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