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Volunteer Fire Departments Face Challenges to Keep Doors Open
Written by Rachel McDevitt
Last updated on March 03, 2014 @ 1:16PM
Created on February 27, 2014 @ 5:44PM

When there's a fire in a small town, you're almost sure to see volunteer fire fighters responding, but running a volunteer fire department isn't as simple as it seems.

A common misunderstanding about these volunteer departments is that they operate for free or without a budget, but that's not the case. The men and women that fight fires donate their time and energy, but all of the equipment -the trucks, the hoses, the gear -it all needs paid for and insured. The departments also need to cover those people that risk their lives to save others. The departments often need to rely on the county or city they are in to supplement their budget.

When the paperwork gets messed up or the insurance lapses, the company has to shut down until they can get everything straightened out. Marion County relies on almost a dozen volunteer fire departments to help them when emergency strikes, and many people in the area said they would be very concerned if their local VFD couldn't operate every day.

"Nobody wants to see their local fire department shut down, whether it's for a day or anytime," said Barry Bledsoe, President of the Marion County Fire Association. "The two problems that volunteer fire departments have, statewide, are funding and personnel. We're all short on money and we're all short on people."

Volunteer fire departments are usually up and running after these types of glitches in just a few days.

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