Volunteer fire departments reevaluating how they are funded

Warren Co Volunteer Departments reevaluating how they are funded
Published: Apr. 4, 2022 at 5:59 PM CDT
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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - Warren County has seen a large population increase over the past few years, and with that comes challenges.

Nine volunteer fire departments work within the county limits, so with the increase in people comes an increase in calls for service.

“We need to have a plan in place on exactly what we’re going to do,” said Bob Skipper, Chief of the Woodburn Volunteer Fire Department.

The departments are looking into the future of how they’re funded, as they need more resources to keep up with demand.

“It’s hard to go out and ask the public to spend more money on fire protection without having a plan for how we’re going to spend that money and I think that’s what we really need. We need to lay out our needs and what we plan to do with the money, not just ask for more funding,” Chief Skipper said.

The population growth and inflation is affecting how they operate.

Currently, the departments are funded primarily by annual fire dues of $50 for households and $70 for businesses.

Browning Fire Chief, Keith Lockhart, says the fiscal court supplements the dues with annual allotments and purchases firetrucks on a rotating basis.

Chief Skipper says they need to bring in stakeholders, the county and the citizens to brainstorm their next steps.

“I don’t think it’s something for us to just up and say, ‘here’s what we want’, we need input from the county and from the citizens as to what they think is fair and what the county can realistically do,” Skipper said.

The total annual operating budget for the nine departments still comes to less than $2 million for which they make nearly 4,000 medical and fire runs per year.

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