A number of firefighters answer 911 calls on their own time. Volunteer fire departments make it work mainly through donations.
A recent Facebook post by the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department says while they sent out fliers in the spring, they want to remind homeowners in their three-county service area it’s not too late to help them, so they can keep helping.
Seymour Volunteer Fire Chief John Linsenbigler was dispatched Monday morning to Blount County to help with a hay fire.
“Why do we do what we do? Because we’re here for you on your worst day,” he said.
SVFD covers parts of Knox, Sevier and Blount counties where they run more than 2,000 calls a year. Having six fire stations and more than two dozen pieces of equipment, it costs to simply function.
“It’s not subsidized through property taxes. We do get some money from all three counties we serve, but it’s not nearly enough to keep up with operations,” said Chief Linsenbigler.
Contributions help pay for insurance, workers comp., maintaining their fire trucks and so much more.
“Average age of our engines are 28 years old, like the one behind me, so maintenance costs. Fuel, fuel is going up. I looked at last month’s bill and this month’s and it went up $800,” said Chief Linsenbigler.
Philip Zook’s home falls in SVFD’s fire district.
“Having the new location up here very close to us, that’s a blessing,” said Zook
While the Zooks have been fortunate and have never had a fire, they give every year because it’s a priority.
“It’s the people and knowing that they invested a lot of their lives into that volunteer work,” he added.
It’s why SVFD is asking homeowners to help so they can continue running fire and medical calls.
“Every penny counts,” added Chief Linsenbigler.
There are a total of 72 volunteer firefighters a part of SVFD. Some of them do receive some kind of support or payment. There is one paid employee who’s on call 24/7, receiving a small stipend that’s been budgeted for the last seven years.
The chief’s income is partially paid through a federal FEMA grant which should last the next couple of years.
As for the amount of time these volunteers donate, Seymour Volunteer Fire Department says for 2017 a total of 7,808 hours were logged.
If you’d like to make a financial donation to SVFD, you visit their website by clicking here.