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Gantt VFD searching for volunteers and donations

By: Donnamy Steele

Gantt Area Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Fight is calling for community members to volunteer and donate to keep the department running. Fight explained that the department has seen a decrease in volunteers recently.

“People spend more time on their phones, games, and social media and we don’t have the response of volunteering that we used to. It’s becoming a little more high tech and things cost more money. It’s a hard time getting enough people and enough money to fix anything,” Fight said. “Like our truck out there, that’s 270,000 and that’s for just one. On the floor over there, that’s about $40,000 just so we can breathe inside of a fire. We get $38,000 a year, and when you think about it, we have to raise money to do anything else. We just had testing done on hoses and we spent thousands on that. We also worked on a truck and it was $1,500. We go through so much fuel just because of the calls we’re getting. Like I said, all fire departments are needing all of the money and help that they can get.”

The department is looking for volunteers and donations, Fight said.

“We are looking for money and firefighters. We need that. We’ve got a lot of firefighters, but it takes a lot. Everybody works. Not everybody can go during the day because of their jobs because the places that they work aren’t going to pay them for being off of work. Families in this day and time, especially now, can’t afford to lose a day’s pay. We just need volunteers everywhere from firefighters to helping out in the buildings, cleaning, helping us put stuff up or help with fundraisers. We’re not the only one, it’s all of us. We lose time and money. It just takes a lot and we don’t get the funding we should, but we do what we can with what we’ve got.”

Fight explained that the department has not been able to fundraise as much as usual, but there are simple ways to contribute monthly.

“We have an event in October that we coordinate with fire prevention week and we do activities with the local schools, but this year it may be different due to the virus. I don’t know if we’ll be doing that or not, and it may be put on hold to prevent gathering a lot of people in one place. We have had yard sales and other fundraisers, but they have been put on halt lately. We have budgeted about $7,500 in extra fundraisers for the year and we also receive contributions through power bills,” Fight said. “If you fill out a form through your power company, you can donate $5, $10, or $20 to us with each bill. It’s an easy way to give.”

“There are 19 fire departments in Covington County which are manned by volunteers who have a concern for their community and a desire to help because they can,” Fight said. “Unfortunately, there are not nearly enough of these because some, even though able, do not choose to volunteer. Also, only about 8 percent of the county population seems to realize the importance of the fire departments and help with extremely valuable tax-deductible donations. The county allocates about $38,000 to the many fire departments, but that is not nearly enough. Unfortunately, when the word ‘Fire’ is heard, the costs rise sharply. Folks need to understand that if the departments were not available; their insurance premiums would increase as much as 25-50 percent.

For more information on how to volunteer or donate to the Gantt Area Fire Department, call 388-3002, email ganttfire@yahoo.com, or mail checks to P.O. Box 193, Gantt, AL 36038.