Fire department receives funding

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 20, 2005

Not long ago, the residents of Perry County agreed to a tax raise to help fund their overworked and underfunded Volunteer Fire Departments. Wednesday morning, that effort came to fruition in the form of the largest check the County Commission has ever written to the Perry County VFD Association.

Calling fire protection “the greatest need we have,” chairman Albert Turner of the County Commission handed the Perry County VFDs a check in the amount of more than $115,000.

“This has been a combined effort by everyone in Perry County,” said Turner. “Black, white, urban, rural…everyone has worked together to continue fighting fire, to continue to make Perry County a safer place.”

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Although the VFD Association was meeting later in the week to make final decisions on how to spend the money, some of their options include new firefighting equipment such as hoses or helmets, new communications equipment, or possibly putting the money towards a new fire truck.

Whether or not the $115,000 is used in the purchase of a new vehicle, according to Turner Perry County will have a new fire truck soon regardless. Annual funds allotted by the federal Department of Homeland Security have been pooled by the state government to create sixty-seven $75,000 grants, one per year for each county in Alabama. Turner used the check presentation meeting to also announce that two years’ worth of these grants will allow the county to purchase a brand new fire truck.

“We have plenty of concerns,” he said, “but fire protection is where the rubber really meets the road…we’re going to use this Homeland Security money to make our homeland more secure.”

Although it was agreed the new truck would be best used at the Marion department, which fields the most calls on a yearly basis, a new truck will benefit all of Perry County’s VFDs through a “ladder” system.

The system, agreed to by those present at the meeting, will use the make, model year, and mileage of currently used trucks to determine which VFD would receive the truck made expendable by the acquisition of the new truck in Marion. That VFD would then have a truck to donate to the next-neediest VFD. “We’ll work it up where we can just step it on down the ladder,” said Association member Franco Crocker. The prospect of newer trucks, even if used, will be good news to departments in northern or eastern Perry County, some of which are still using trucks manufactured in the late 1960s.

Although the transaction has yet to be finalized, Turner said he was “working feverishly” to acquire a ’90s model used ladder truck from Mobile county. The ladder truck would be used to fight fires in taller buildings, such as the Perry County courthouse.

Turner also used the occasion to give the local public library a check for $4800, which “restores” funding that had previously been cut from the county budget.