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Multiple income sources needed to support volunteer fire departments

Posted: 9:45 PM, Aug 12, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-12 23:16:44-04
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BELL COUNTY, TX — As the summer starts to sizzle, the demand on fire departments increase. Firefighters hear a calling to protect and serve, regardless of the demand.

Running a volunteer fire department is not cheap. But exactly how much does it cost?

The answer is not a simple one. Population size and density as well as the number of calls are all factors in driving the cost. However, we asked the Central Bell County Fire and Rescue how they balance their budget to get a better idea.

“Typically going out on a fire call it costs us about $1,500 going out the door,” said Asst. Chief Jason Woodard. “Our monthly expenses, for utilities alone is like $1,700 a month. And for fuel is like 700 dollars a month.”

In the summer, the number of calls often increase. Burn bans have gone into effect after wildfire risks in dozens of counties.

“With the excessive heat, you know, you have people falling off of heat exhaustion, you have fires starting everywhere. We just had a fire over the weekend that we had to respond to,” said Woodard.

Even when the number of calls remain consistent, there are still big budget items.

While each month changes, the costs require support usually from multiple sources.

Central Bell County Fire and Rescue is contracted through the city of Nolanville. The city tax dollars are invested into the volunteer fire department. They also seek grant funding available through the state and federal government.

“A lot of departments do fundraisers. My department does fundraisers. Fill the helmet. Every quarter we do one,” said Woodard.