Warren County Fire Departments: Making the Most of Their Budgets

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After a proposed insurance premium tax failed to pass in Warren County, they made cuts to several departments including fire protection.

Now some of the smallest county departments are finding new ways to save money.

"In the last two years, we have pulled out 9 thousand dollars of our savings to make our budget work," said Gott Fire Department Chief Craig Peay.

"Anything I buy, we'll have to get a loan for, and pay for over years," said Barren River Fire Department Chief Shawn Whittlesey.

The fire departments decided to cut spending from the county's portion of maintenance of trucks and stations, meaning the departments may now incur those costs.

"We might have to dip into our own funds and cut back on turnout gear, and supplies for our trucks," said Browning Fire Department Chief Michael Green.

Some departments like Barren River have needs for new tankers and engines, and departments are working together to help.

"Alvaton was nice enough to loan us one of their trucks to replace our tanker until we can purchase one," said Whittlesey.

Peay says the mutual aid system the county operates requires three departments to respond to every call, reducing the stress on a single department to provide equipment.

"We may not have to buy a ladder truck because Alvaton has a ladder truck. In turn, we have more tankers than Alvaton does, so we use our tanker," said Peay.

Pay says 60 percent of Gott's calls are mutual aid for another department, but even with the system's benefits come setbacks.

"Our costs go up. You've got travel time on your vehicle, tires, oil changes... more fuel that runs through it," said Peay.

Peay says they cut costs by using local Amish men to help build needed station additions at discounted rates, and many departments purchase used, low mileage vehicles to save more money.

Peay says small departments are eligible for some grants, but are often not affordable when they require the departments to match a percentage of the contribution. They also look to the community for donations, holding pancake breakfasts and other benefits.

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