Local fire chief asks legislators for solution to funding issues

WINSTON COUNTY    - Rural volunteer fire departments are often at the mercy of their communities when it comes to funding, meaning departments not financially supported by councils or towns are struggling to stay afloat.
This issue was brought by Arley Fire Chief James Rickett to the  attention of Winston County’s team of state legislators who were speaking at the annual public forum Jan. 21, at Haleyville Middle School.
Speaking as an advocate for fire departments across Winston County, Rickett brought to focus the need for the state to pitch in and help pass laws or somehow provide more adequate funding for fire departments, which face daily burdens, often without public assistance.
 Rickett began by stating he wanted to wait until the previous questions and discussions about education mandates at the forum had ended before he asked his question.
“In Winston County, we have 11 volunteer fire departments. Right now, we have some departments that are struggling.
“Let me tell you guys, struggling is not even a word for them,” Rickett pointed out. “We’ve got departments that can’t even fill up with fuel in the trucks after they have a house  or a woods fire.”
The Alabama Forestry Commission currently helps volunteer fire departments by providing around $1,100 to $1,200 per year, Rickett further informed legislators.
“That won’t even buy two tires for a fire truck,” Rickett noted. “$1,100, $1,200 a year, that won’t do it.  You’ve got departments who are getting nothing. The community is not helping them.”
Fire departments, Rickett continued, are also struggling to keep manpower.

See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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