KATHLEEN, Ga. — Fighting fires may cost a lot more than people think. The equipment firefighters need can surpass hundreds of thousands of dollars. In Houston County, the fire department is fundraising and asking people in in unincorporated areas to chip in.
At the Houston County Fire Department, 70 paid and volunteer staff are ready to jump into action at any moment.
"Our call volume has increased tenfold," Fire chief Chris Stoner said, but to take action, the staff has to be well-equipped, and the equipment they need can cost thousands.
"So purchasing that equipment, that’s one of the additional things that we do off of this fundraiser is keep that kind of stuff going," he continued.
To serve and keep the millage rates low, they host an annual fundraiser.
"It’s one way we try to help keep the taxes low. Our department is solely funded from a fire tax in the unincorporated areas of the county, so we don’t receive any money from the general tax,” he explained.
This year they’re asking for a few things, and the prices may surprise you:
UNIFORMS, $3,500 each. A washer and dryer that remove cancerous materials from those uniforms, $8,000. For the air tanks that help firefighters breathe, $39,000.
"That’s a pretty immense cost," he said.
Brad Niebrand was a firefighter once himself, but now he works on restoration after the fire is out.
“We come in and help the families try to put their lives back together and get back to some sort of normalcy. we specialize in fire, mold and water mitigation,” Niebrand said.
He's even done fundraising for the department and says each dollar really counts.
"Most people will go through their entire life and never need the fire department, but I promise you when that day comes, you’re going to be glad that you supported them and they have the equipment they need to either save your life or your structure, your home,” he said.
The last time the department held a fundraiser, it raised $60,000. This time, they're hoping they can pass that. if you are interested in donating, you can drop the money off at the department directly, or by mail. You can also find a link on their Facebook page.