$25k in grants for Madison County volunteer fire departments

Published: Mar. 16, 2022 at 7:53 PM CDT
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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - There are 16 volunteer fire departments in Madison County. Each one relies on grants to help serve residents who live outside the city limits.

”Our fire department like many, we live and die by grants,” said Gurley Fire Chief Boone Ruffing.

WAFF toured the Gurley Volunteer Fire Department and the Toney Volunteer Fire Department on Wednesday, March 16th.

Despite having big fire trucks, the volunteer firefighters say most of the calls they respond to don’t involve smoke, flames, or fires.

“About 85 percent are medical calls and they range from someone has fallen and just needs some help,” said Ruffing.

The fire departments know how they want to spend the $15,000 community development block grant members of the Madison County Commission signed off on, and the more than $10,000 state lawmakers are making available for continued COVID relief.

“Airway suction units, advanced airway, we’re also going to purchase NARCAN to administer in the field if needed. Also we’re going to get EMT’s new trauma bags,” said Toney Volunteer Fire Department president Heath Jones.

“We’ll be buying personal protective equipment, some new hoses, but everything we buy goes right back into the community,” said Ruffing.

But there is one thing money can’t buy, that every volunteer fire department in Madison County and the Tennessee Valley needs.

“We’re actively recruiting. Recruitment and retention is an issue all across the fire service. it’s not just Madison County,” said Jones.

“Right now we have 10 active firefighters within the department,” said Ruffing.

The volunteer fire departments we talked with say they’d like to see the number of volunteers they have, almost double.

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