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News Article
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Don’t Make Them Extinct

            It was disheartening to learn that, in some municipalities, 20 percent and less of the residents donate to the annual fund drives of their local fire companies.

            No wonder the volunteers are seeking additional help from municipalities.

            Why is the donation funding so low?

            Well, times are rough and some folks just don't have extra money to donate.  But, know that if an "emergency services tax" is initiated you won't have a choice.

            Another reason could be that, with the influx of new residents to the area, many people don't know that the fire companies that serve them are volunteer.  Some of those volunteers could be their new friends and neighbors.  Folks new to the area, especially those coming from towns that had an emergency services tax, assume the municipalities are fully funding the companies.

            Another reason could be that many (most) of our local utility companies don't have their names on the donor list either.  Our communities house the wires and cables of Comcast, Verizon, PPL Utilities, MetEd, and others.  Ask any fire company volunteer how many pole and wire-related calls they respond to each year.

            The volunteer fire companies have annual fund drives and hold other fundraising events.  That doesn't come close to paying all the bills.  Some have social and banquet halls to augment their fundraising but that income usually just covers the cost of maintain the building and keeping the lights on.

            At one time you could drive past these local fire companies on a Saturday or Sunday and their parking lot was full of cars attending an event there.  Not anymore.  Those high-attendance wedding receptions are becoming a thing of the past.  Local business groups opt for higher-end venues to hold their events to impress the attendees.

            We tout "shop local, spend local" but forget that the business end of many of our local volunteer fire companies are, well, businesses too.  We must not forget that.

            Asking the fire company volunteers to do more fundraising is a tough call.  In addition to responding to emergencies, the volunteers attend training sessions every week to keep their skills sharp.

            Also, nearly all volunteers attend specialized training at the county and state level to achieve certifications that help keep your insurance rates down and allow the company a better opportunity to qualify for loans.

            Perhaps municipal officials can become more learned about their volunteer fire companies and help to promote them to the public.  Things like announcing and promoting the annual fund drive and fundraising events at their public meetings, on social media, and on their website.  They can make sure to attend the events and even help out when and where they can.

            Volunteer fire companies don't buy new trucks because they're nice and shiny.  They buy them because, according to insurance companies and other government agencies, their life has run out and they are deemed questionable for safety and insurance coverage.  The also buy new fire trucks because they have equipment that can help with the number of volunteers now available.

            Fire Prevention Week is next week.  Find out when your local firehouse is holding their related activities and make it a point to visit them.

            Volunteer firefighters are getting scarce.

            Don't make them extinct.






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