Marengo VFDs receive grants

Published 12:00 am Thursday, June 16, 2005

LINDEN-Members of Marengo County Volunteer Fire Departments and rescue squads came together Tuesday night at Tina’s Caf/ to celebrate their role in the area and trade ideas.

The departments were also the recipients of good food and grant money. Williams Gas Company sponsored a steak dinner for department members in attendance and Sen. Bobby Singleton presented grant checks from the state.

Mike Carlisle, of the Linden Fire Department, said having Singleton attend the meeting was a big boost for the departments because they knew he was in Montgomery fighting to help improve their departments.

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“Sometimes politicians come around and they want votes and they will promise you the world,” Carlisle said. “I honestly believe (Singleton) is not that way. I believe he wants to help the fire service of Alabama.”

Singleton said it was his pleasure to make the drive to Linden. He said it was very important to support our volunteer fire fighters because in many cases they were the first line of defense.

“I appreciate being invited here this evening,” Singleton said. “I believe in what you are doing being first responders and the first ones out there.”

Singleton added the grant checks would not satisfy all the departments’ needs, but they would be a good start. He said he would continue to work toward increasing state support of local fire departments.

“The checks they are getting today, I know it is not all of what you need,” Singleton said. “But it is something to help. We are hoping in the special section to keep things at level funding with out general fund budget. We hope to keep the things funded that we have funded. I want to ask for your continued support and I will continue to support you.”

There are many issues that plague volunteer fire departments that have nothing to do with equipment. One problem is that volunteer fire fighters usually have other jobs, which may not approve of them suddenly leaving the job site to help battle an inferno. Carlisle said he would like to see a system in place that would protect the jobs of volunteer firemen.

“I’ve had a dream a long time ago, a vision to get job protection for fire fighters,” Carlisle said. “A lot of us have jobs where our employers do not recognize the fact that you are a rescue person or an emergency worker. Most of them do, but there is going to come a time when they are not. If for some reason you had to leave work for a major downtown fire people may be fired over that.’

A retirement system would also be a motivating factor in the recruitment of new firemen and rescue workers. Carlisle said he would like to see a retirement system in place like some other states have put into practice.

“I have been in the fire service for 3 years of my life,” Carlisle said. “I would love to one day get a retirement system in place for our volunteer firemen like the state of Georgia. All of the things I am talking about I know a Senator (Singleton) who has been working on that. I am very enthusiastic about that”

Singleton said he would continue to push for department assistance and do whatever he could to show his appreciation for the departments.

Departments receiving grant checks included Dixon Mills, Faundsdale, Jefferson, Linden, Marengo County Fire and Rescue, Myrtlewood, Old Spring Hill, Sweet Water, Surginer and Thomaston.