“Wake Island Fire Department

Week 3 Forum – Funding Sources

Stimulated by local budget pressures, fire and emergency medical services administrators in the United States are using a wide array of funding alternatives beyond traditional methods.

After reading Chapter 5 in your textbook as well as the supplemental reading, Outfitting Fire Department Fitness Centers, and completing your own research, write a post that answers the following:

 
1. Discuss the primary funding sources of your local fire department, and then

2. Prepare a descriptive list of alternative funding sources that are not currently being used but could be used to augment your department’s budget. 

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#1

Again this week’s question is a thought provoking one. As I have discussed before, I am part of a very small volunteer department in the south central part of PA. If you’re interested you can see more about the department at www.biglervillefd.org. To finance our department we use several sources of income. The local borough gives a donation each year, the surrounding municipalities give funds from their fire tax, we run several fundraisers throughout the year, private donations are given from private companies and citizens but these are not guaranteed, and we rely on grants to replace equipment and turn out gear. For fundraisers we have events ranging from breakfast with Santa, a three day fall festival that just ended, shrimp feed, crab feed, and several other events spread throughout the year. The department’s cost are always covered because of fugal spending and members supplying man hours to do smaller jobs around the station.  I would not say we are the most equipped station in the area, but we have the basic equipment needed. Any special equipment that we don’t have, because we don’t have a need for it regularly, we know a neighboring department that does and will request that department to respond with that piece of equipment. 

As for alternative funding sources, I cannot give any that we are not using because we use every source that is available to us and continue to search for more. We regularly apply for state, federal, and private grants. Some times even joining up with another department to apply for a grant. Just last year we had a pact with at least 6 other departments for a joint grant for new SCBAs. Sadly we were not chosen, but living in a semi-rural area that is not that affluent has made us become creative in finding funding sources. 

#2

Jacksonville, NC Fire Department is funded through the City of Jacksonville. Their primary funding source is property tax. Every year the city gives Jacksonville’s Fire Department a budget. For capital expenditures (ie. fire apparatus, adding or refurbishing stations) the use of traditional loans is sourced.  However, the municipal fire departments do not hold fundraisers or accept donations which I thought was pretty odd. Their volunteer fire departments do have the option to fundraiser, as well as, accept donations since they are not funded by the City.

There are several alternative funding sources I believe the City can use to find their departments. The state of North Carolina offers two types of grants, the Fire/Rescue and Relief Fund-Volunteer Rescue and EMS Fund and the North Carolina Highway Safety Grant. The purpose of these two grants is to provide assistance to these rescue organizations to purchase rescue and safety equipment, make capital expenditures, and provide a safer way on the roads while conducting fire rescue/EMS operations. To be eligible, the organization must provide proof that the department conducts fire rescue and EMS operations and reasons why the grant is needed (ie. training and developing and enhancing safe operations).
Other alternatives of funding can come from other taxes such as the use of fire flow taxes, property tax that is assessed by the computer fire flow of the building. Being that the main revenue for Jacksonville depends on the Marine community, sales tax can be used to source funding. Income tax, utility tax, user fees (ie. emergency user fees, inspection fees, permits, HAZMAT fees, EMS user fees), fines and penalties and seizures during operations can also help source funding. Selling of services like training another agency can be beneficial to both parties. One agency gets funding and refresher of training and the other gets the training needed where they can not get anywhere else.

Reference:

Funding alternatives for emergency medical and fire services, Funding alternatives for emergency medical and fire services (n.d.).

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