Vandiver closing in on fire district vote

Residents of the Vandiver and Sterrett areas may be able to vote on forming a new fire district by the beginning of 2010.

Chief Dennis Brasher of the Vandiver Volunteer Fire Department said the department has been working to get a fire district in place for almost two years. The volunteer fire department serves an area of 26-and-a-half square miles, which includes 1,450 addresses and much wooded land.

Currently, residents in Vandiver and Sterrett are expected to pay fire dues of $50 a year. However, the fire dues are paid on a voluntary basis, which has resulted in the fire department operating at a loss.

“Out of almost 1,500 addresses, we have 300 people that pay $50 a year for dues,” Brasher said. “It’s just come to a point where we’re going to have to do something, or every year we’re just going further and further in the hole.”

Brasher said if a fire district were formed, it would make it mandatory for residents to pay fire dues. Dues for most homeowners would stay at $50, and dues for those with larger parcels of land would be $250 at the most.

The department would be able to purchase better equipment and training programs with the added funds, which would mean better fire and medical services for residents, as well as savings on insurance costs, he said.

However, some in the community have objected to the mandatory dues, Brasher said.

There is even a petition going around against forming the new district.

“They don’t want to be a part of it because they don’t want to pay the fire dues,” Brasher said.

Brasher said although he understands the concerns, something’s got to change for the Vandiver Volunteer Fire Department to be able to do its job well.

“We try to do things by the book and do it right,” Brasher said. “It costs a lot of money to run a fire department.”