LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. (WAFF) - With rapid growth spanning across the Tennessee Valley, one area is struggling to keep up.
Thousands of people are expected to move to East Limestone within the next two years. But potentially life-saving services like fire departments may not be prepared for the expansion.
In East Limestone, 1,200 to 5,000 houses are in the process of being built.
Volunteer Fire Department Capt. John Roberts says this could bring as many as 6,000 new people to the area in less than two years.
“When you hit a population where East Limestone is headed. N then it does put strain on all of those public services. Not just the fire service. The sheriff’s office and everybody else. They’re funded differently, but they’re seeing the same strain like everyone else," Roberts said.
Roberts says they're already struggling financially with equipment, and this rapid growth is putting more of a financial burden on the department.
“Our biggest concern right now has got to be finances. We’ve got aging apparatus, we’ve got aging PPE, and even if we do increase our headcount, I’ve got to put them in gear, which is $3,000 to $4,000 per person," he said.
In the past, Roberts says the East Limestone Volunteer Fire Department has been able to keep up with its 58-square mile coverage area, but with the increasing population density, resources will continue to spread thin while fire and medical calls continue to increase.
For now, the station will continue to rely on donations, state funding and mutual aid with surrounding departments.
“The pager goes off or somebody calls for help, we’re gonna go. We don’t have the option not to go. Someone, in some sort of fashion, will respond to calls or emergency calls as they come in," he said.