Chas FDs turning to crowd-funding to battle budget short shortfalls

Berkeley County is in the middle of a countywide fire study to update and increase funding for its fire districts.

But that may take too long for one of their rural volunteer fire stations.

So they rather than waiting on money, they went straight to the people.

Responding to emergencies takes money.

And to handle more, the Macedonia Rural Volunteer Fire Department in Berkeley County needs more funding.

They are asking the people directly, with a “Go Fund Me” page.

“Great idea, I wish I had thought of it first,” says Chief Timothy Stephenson of Whitesville Rural Volunteer Fire Department. Stephenson says he's eager to try a go fund me page as well.

His district has been waiting to build a new fire station for a while now.

It won't replace the money coming from the county, but it will certainly help says Stephenson. “It’s very cutting edge, maybe we should do the same thing because it does allow another avenue for people to donate money to the fire department that is protecting them.”

To increase funding countywide is a work in progress.

At the moment, the comprehensive Berkeley County fire study is with the Fire Chiefs' Association.

With the study in hand, the chiefs will make funding recommendations to bring districts in line with each other, but that will cost money.

Stephenson says, “First thing we need is additional funding the fire department is collecting $70 dollars per house is just not enough when you look at Charleston County or Dorchester County. We are way behind the curve when it comes to funding.”

Berkeley County Councilmember Tommy Newell says he is relying on the chiefs to present these recommendations to the county council soon, but in the meantime, go fund me pages may bring community awareness to desperately needed funding at the district level.

“I think it’s great. I mean these volunteer fire departments are rooted in their community and if their community can rally around them to help them to get the funding necessary to have fire stations then that’s a great thing,” says Newell.

In addition to repairing the ceiling, the Macedonia Fire Department says they want to upgrade lights, appliances and increase funding to their technical rescue team. You can donate here.

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