Swearengin residents propose solution to fire department funding woes

Published: Jul. 31, 2014 at 8:42 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 28, 2014 at 8:44 PM CDT
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The Swearengin VFD has experienced massive turnover after a failed funding vote. (Source: WAFF)
The Swearengin VFD has experienced massive turnover after a failed funding vote. (Source: WAFF)

MARSHALL COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - Residents in one Marshall County community at risk for losing its volunteer fire department met as a group Thursday evening to discuss the problem.

Community members will be gathering at the Swearengin Community Center. Organizers said the purpose was to look at how they can get funding to the volunteer fire department. During the June primaries, voters opted not to give $5 per month on their property taxes to fund the department.

The no-vote led to a quick turnover in the department, with no fewer than three officials connected with the fire department tendering their resignations, stating they can't work in an area where they can't afford the maintenance on equipment and training to provide the vital service of fire protection.

Among the possible solutions discussed was starting an elected fire board to help raise money for the department. However, volunteer firefighters feel they should have a say in who becomes the chief, and not a board of directors.

Another idea proposed was to try and get funding through the water board - however, there are doubts they can afford the setup costs, and since the community is not a municipality, it may not be able to happen at all.

Another community meeting was scheduled for August 14. It is expected there will be a vote on the idea of a board and discuss how it will operate.

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