Madison County Commissioners make funding available for volunteer fire departments

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting
Published: Jul. 13, 2023 at 8:55 AM CDT
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MADISON Co., Ala. (WAFF) - The Madison County Commissioners are reaching out to the community’s volunteer fire departments to better understand their needs and help fill some critical gaps. With limited budgets and aging equipment, volunteer firefighters are facing a dire situation that could significantly impact their operations.

In an effort to address this pressing concern, the county is utilizing a portion of the federal COVID relief funds to provide much-needed financial support. Over $2 million will be allocated to volunteer fire departments throughout Madison County through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). However, rather than simply distributing funds, the departments are required to submit applications outlining their specific needs, like new fire trucks, updated breathing apparatuses and increased dispatchers.

Madison County Commission Chair, Mac McCutcheon, emphasized the importance of equipping every volunteer fire department with the necessary tools to ensure the safety of the firefighters and their communities.

“I want to make sure every chief of every volunteer fire department has the necessary equipment they need to protect the volunteers that go out and fight these fires,” said McCutcheon. “That’s the premise we are working from with these ARPA funds.”

One such fire chief, Brandon Burgess, has submitted an application for vital equipment required by the Meridianville Volunteer Fire Department. Among the requested items are self-contained breathing apparatuses, crucial for firefighters operating in smoke-filled buildings. His team’s current apparatuses are no longer manufactured, making replacements impossible in the event of damage or malfunction.

WAFF 48's Megan Plotka reporting

“That’s a huge capital purchase, and if we were to allocate funds from our existing budget, we would be left with a mere $2,000 for the entire year,” Chief Burgess explained.

Madison County leaders will review the applications from Chief Burgess’s department and other volunteer fire departments to allocate the funds.

For more information or to provide input regarding the needs of your local volunteer fire department, please contact the Madison County Commissioners’ office.

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