Swearengin fire officials resign following failed vote - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Swearengin fire officials resign following failed vote

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Swearengin is the lone district that did not get a 'yes' vote for a fire protection fee. (Source: WAFF) Swearengin is the lone district that did not get a 'yes' vote for a fire protection fee. (Source: WAFF)

A Marshall County fire chief and his assistant have resigned after a vote in Tuesday's elections did not fall in their district's favor.

Voters approved a fire protection fee in four out of five districts. The fee, to be assessed from property taxes, will go to fund essential equipment and services for the fire districts, except for in Swearengin - the lone district where the measure failed.

Swearengin Fire Chief Mitch McCullough has served in that role for a decade. He said volunteer fire departments have to have community support in order to survive, and he does not see that support in Swearengin.

McCullough and Assistant Chief Ronnie Pendergrass have handed in their resignations. McCullough said he just doesn't know what to do anymore to raise funds to keep the department open, so he is stepping aside.

Acting Chief James Dake said other firefighters said they plan to resign as well, but it is unknown how many will do so.

McCullough said he's concerned about the community's fire rating insurance officials assign each area, and feels the writing is on the wall as far as their financial situation.

"We simply didn't have the funding to sustain keeping that fire department operational on $635 a month, which is what we're averaging for the current year," said McCullough. "Fundraising is down, so there is no way you can keep that fire department going with that kind of funding."

Dake said he plans to have a meeting with the department within the next few weeks. He is also asking the community to step up and support the department.

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