Let's talk about the fire departments in Howard county.Staring from the top of the county they are Athens,Umpire,Dierks,Center Point,County Line,Nashville,Mineral Springs,Cottonshed, Tollette,and Saratoga.The best estimate that I can come up with is that these departments make approximately 300 calls a year.I came up with this based on the number of runs that we did at Mineral Springs ,in 2007, some departments do more and some less.If each call averages two hours that's 600 hours a year that are given by these volunteers!
For every call made there are numerous hours spent in training ,preparation ,and maintenance.
The services offered by the departments include: fire suppression,extrication,medical first responder,water rescue,fire safety education,fire inspections and hazardous materials decontamination.While we don't often get cats out of trees we have been known to haul water to poultry houses when wells have failed.directed traffic at accident scenes,and covered roofs damaged in storms.
Howard county fire departments are funded in a variety of ways.Some departments have barbecues ,cake walks,and auctions for fund raisers.Some are funded by their municipalities.Some charge dues,some don't.All of the departments receive act 833 funding .This is a 1/2 of 1 percent tax on property insurance,so for every 10 dollars you pay in insurance premiums the fire departments get 5 cents.
Beginning in 2008 in order to receive act 833 each member of a department is required to have 24 hours of training per year.To be a firefighter approximately 28 hours of training is required.This brings a person to the introductory level and more training is encouraged.Most departments meet or drill twice a month.One thing that is unique to the Howard county fire depatments is that the fire service radio system is owned by the departments themelves.
Hopefully I've given you a brief overview of the fire service in Howard county.
To the men and women of our fire departments I say thank you.You make Howard county a better place.
I am planning a campaign kickoff on Febuary 9 at the Howard county fair barn at 6:00 p.m. I'll have more about this later.