(Via KARK) Across the state volunteer fire departments are struggling to get people to join the force.
Within the last month, at least three fire departments in central Arkansas have held special elections to raise taxes. For East End, the department hopes it will help lower response times and get more people interested in joining the team.
Since the age of 13, Fire Chief Rodney Ashley has been apart of the East End Volunteer Fire Department. Recently, him and the department had to make a hard decision to ask voters to raise taxes that would allow the Department to get more funding. In August, voters passed the tax. He hopes this will help get more people interested in volunteering and lower response times.
“This money is going to help us staff our station, just because of our response times and being a volunteer department, that’s huge,” said Ashley.
It will help pay volunteers to man the station during busy hours.
“It will help us to staff the station at night, which is our greatest need, the overnight hours. It will also help get new equipment,” said Ashley.
He says many departments in the area have looked at this as a solution.
“We’re at a point where our volunteer core is dwindling,” said Ashley.
He hopes this gets the next generation interested in fighting fires and helping the community.
“The quicker we can get people on scene to the medical or the fire calls. It’s for the best for the community to save lives and property,” said Ashley.
Right now East End pays people to be at the station during the day and weekend shifts.
The Department won’t see the extra funding until March 2018.