By Miles Layton and Steve Barrett – photo by Amanda Steen – Herald-Standard
When a fire breaks out, people expect a prompt response from the area men and women who, almost always, are volunteers that risk their lives.
But what many don’t consider is the cost to the departments, which, oftentimes, get by financially by selling hoagies, holding car washes, or spaghetti dinners, and selling tickets to gun or cash bashes.
First Assistant Chief George Matis at Republic Volunteer Fire Department in Fayette County said fundraising in these lean times is a challenge.
“It’s becoming more difficult to pay for everything, so we have to have fundraiser after fundraiser,” he said. “We have to work, work, work to get everything we need. But we have to do it to get the most professional and provide the best service that we can.”
Matis said the firefighting gear is expensive. For example, he said, one air pack, which is an essential part of firefighter’s gear, costs $8,000; special fire resistant pants and a jacket cost more than $2,300; portable radios — $1,300 to $3,500 each. Matis said a fire department can pay upwards of $500,000 for a truck.