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March 10, 2013

Fire dues increasing in West Point

WEST POINT — Brittini Curvin Jones is a strong supporter of the West Point Volunteer Fire Department.

Had it not been for their services on a rainy morning in October 2006, the Cullman County native feels she might not have survived a car wreck that left her spending several months at the Sheppard Center in Atlanta.

“I thank God for his many blessings and to the West Point Fire Department for getting to me safely in a quick and efficient manner,” Jones told a group gathered at the West Point town hall for a community meeting recently.

West Point Fire Chief Tim Martin used Jones’ story and others to help residents of the town get a better understanding of how their current fire department dues are put to use.

“Without the dues, the fire department wouldn’t have the resources to do what we do,” Martin told residents.

Because of the increased cost of a number of things such as fuel, maintenance, and insurance cost, Martin said beginning soon, those dues would be increased by $10 to ensure the department can continue and expand its capabilities

“This is going to provide the fire department with better funding so our volunteers can have access to better training, which is something that is mandated, as well as allow us to sustain equipment and have access to better equipment and emergency vehicles,” he said. “It will also have the ability to allow us to seek a better, and lower ISO rating, which governs your homeowners insurance.”

He said currently the fire dues make up 89.63 percent of their budget.

“We get some sales tax a year, but that only counts about 10 percent of our budget, and that’s the only part that’s guaranteed.”

One important piece of equipment the increase in dues will help fund is new radios. As of January 1, all public safety and fire departments were mandated by the FCC to go to a narrowband frequency to free up bandwidth. There is also talk of also using dues to build and relocate the department to a new fire station.

“We’re not adding another one, we’re replacing one that’s 32 years old,” Martin said. We outgrew it a long time ago. My goal is to build one that will sustain this fire department for the next 20 to 30 years.”

He’s hopes the residents in the town will understand.

“As long as I’ve been apart of the fire department, we’ve always had good support from the community,” Martin said. “The community is what makes our fire department.”

Ashley Graves can be reached by phone at 734-2131, ext. 225, or by email at agraves@cullmantimes.com

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