Volunteer Fire Departments Feeling the Heat From High Gas Prices

By: Lisa Ferrari
By: Lisa Ferrari

May 23, 2006

Volunteer fire fighter companies are feeling the heat from the high price of gas. Departments working on a donated budget are making sure there is enough fuel to handle every emergency.

If you think the high gas prices are burning a hole in your wallet. Imagine fueling up a vehicle that gets just 3 to 5 miles to the gallon and then imagine you have to pay for that gas out of a donated fund. That's a reality for local volunteer fire companies who are feeling the heat from the high price of gas.

Emergency service personnel burn a lot of gas responding to emergencies, especially out at Lake Monticello where this volunteer group might answer a call 10 miles away.

“At 3 to 5 miles per gallon you can tell we certainly use up a fair amount of diesel fuel on any kind of call,” said Lake Monticello Fire & Rescue Assistant Chief Jason Reitsma.

At the scene, they must keep their engines running to power emergency equipment, sometimes for hours burning up even more fuel.

Topping off this tank takes 65 gallons of gas and costs more than one hundred and fifty dollars to fill up. With three trucks in service and many other emergency vehicles, Lake Monticello runs through 1000 gallons of diesel each month.

“That can affect us anywhere from $1000 to $5000 plus per year,” said Reitsma.

For a company that runs completely on donations, gas is pumping a hole in the annual budget.

“There are certain things we can not purchase,” said Reitsma.

The department will absorb the extra cost by cutting back on non-essentials like equipment replacement, driver training, and office supplies but fire officials say there are two things they will not compromise.

“We do not compromise on the safety of our fire fighters and the safety of the public we serve,” said Reitsma.

Lake Monticello runs 900 calls each year and they are just one of many volunteer rescue squads in the area feeling the heat from high gas prices.

You can make a donation to the rescue squad by calling 434-589-4108.

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