- Published: Tuesday, 29 October 2013 16:05
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FREDERICKTOWN -- The Fredericktown Community Fire District will be asking voters this November to approve a renewal to an existing 1-mill levy fire protection levy for a period of five years. The levy would commence in 2014 and be due in 2015 and generate $124,900 per year according to fire district clerk Sandy Casto.
That levy directly funds the operations of the FCFD on a yearly basis and is a renewal, not new taxes being assessed. In addition to the levy funding, yearly the department seeks grant opportunities at the Local, State, and Federal levels that allows them to fund equipment purchases and pay for the cost of training.
“We have been able to continually increase the quantity and the quality of the service that we provide our residents,” said FCFD Chief Scott Mast. “We want to keep providing the great services that we do, and expand on that as time goes on.”
Budgeting and working with funding isn’t just limited to larger departments, the FCFD is faced with many of the same challenges by any publically funded organization and takes that very seriously.
“We try to forecast into the future and then set forth plans to meet those goals, we have to evaluate the needs of the community,” said Chief Mast. Along with continued fiscal responsibility of the board and their appropriation of the funding, we are able to plug the money into the right places and save money as needed.”
Projects and purchases aren’t just something that is limited to a single persons idea, at the FCFD it is a team effort with many involved throughout the process. From firefighters up to the fireboard that consists of a member from each township represented, there are many people that have the interest of the community in mind.
“It’s a group effort starting at the ground level with conversations amongst firefighters and officers and from that level moves up to the officers. Once we are comfortable with those decisions and have a plan, we take it to the fire board with a request for the funds,” said Chief Mast.
A huge part of the FCFD success is the members of the department and the effort and dedication that they give throughout the year. Although a volunteer department, they hold professionalism and customer service as a key part of their operation.
“I think our firefighters take the job very serious, even though it is a volunteer basis. They have the passion and put in a lot of hard work and effort to be the best. In turn, as a whole makes the department as good as it can be,” said Chief Mast.
The members of the FCFD live and in many cases work at businesses within the fire district, so it places every call on a very personal level that adds to the commitment. Often times, firefighters are responding to calls involving friends, co-workers, or family, and it increases the driving force.
“I think its key to success of the organization when members can buy into it and have ownership into what they’re doing. When you’re doing something in your own community you take a different pride and ownership into the tasks at hand and it pays off,” said Chief Mast.
Fredericktown is no different from other communities throughout the United States when it comes to first responders and problem solving. Fire departments are often looked upon to fill those gaps and make a situation better, and the FCFD realizes that need. In a small community it is often the first responders that are the go to group of individuals to help solve problems.
“We clear roadways of trees and hazards during and after storms, we pump flooded basements, rescue animals, and provide a lot of services other departments won’t do,” said Chief Mast. “A lot of departments won’t go over and above to do some of those things and that is where we excel, going over and above what is asked of us. It might not be fire related or emergency, but we will do whatever we can to help people out.”
Customer service is a key part of the fire district and the feedback that they get back from the community goes back into the organization to continually improve.
“We do treat everyone with the philosophy that everyone is our customer, and we have to keep them happy. If we keep them happy and give them what they need, then hopefully they will continue to support our levy and funding.”
The FCFD is an all-volunteer fire department that protects the residents of 118 square miles of northwest Knox County and those that pass through on a daily basis. They operate two stations with 30 current members with over 50% of our members being certified at the 240-hour professional firefighter level. Their department fleet consists of two engines, a rescue, tanker, two grass trucks, dive rescue boat, technical rescue trailer, fire ATV, and a chief’s vehicle.
In 2012 the department responded to 184 calls, and so far to date they have responded to 166 as of October 28.