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Feeling the heat
Harrison Ferry struggling with no working firetrucks
LynnCurtisWEB
Harrison Ferry Volunteer Fire Department Chief Lynn Curtis stands in front of one of his firetrucks in need of repair Thursday morning. He hopes to get the firetruck operational in the next few days and will pay for it from his personal bank account.

Residents in the area of Harrison Ferry Mountain are in danger of losing their fire protection.
In fact, their volunteer fire department has been operating without a working firetruck in recent days.
"If there was a fire right now, we couldn't respond to it," said Fire Chief Lynn Curtis. "I hope to have one truck fixed in the next few days and I'm having to pay for it from my own account. I'll reimburse myself in July when we get some money from the county."
According to Commissioner Randy England, the county's annual donation is nowhere near enough to keep volunteer fire departments running.
“The county gives the fire departments $3,000 apiece,” said England of the annual donation. “I know every year they need more money because their insurance rates are going up. We are running into a problem. I can only speak for my area, Collins River and Harrison Ferry Mountain, but the people who live out there are not paying their dues. The dues just went up. People aren’t paying their dues.”
Along with county funding, departments set dues to be paid by the members in their coverage area. However, those dues are voluntary and collecting them is often a challenge. England says the situation has placed residents in the area of Harrison Ferry in danger.
Collins River Volunteer Fire Department is doing somewhat better, said England, as it is receiving approximately 39 percent of its membership dues and managing to operate on 61 percent below what it should be receiving.
England said consideration is being given to contacting Caney Fork Electric and seeing if it could add $5 per bill onto the residents who should be paying the dues, keep $1 for their assistance, and dividing the rest among the volunteer fire departments of Centertown, Collins River, Harrison Ferry, Morrison, North Warren, Rock Island/ Campaign, and Viola – giving each $48 a year.
Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin voiced his stance against that plan.
“I vote no on that,” said Bouldin. “I have four meters. I get four electric bills. I don’t want $5 a month added to every one of them. I’m with North Warren. I pay my membership dues.”
Bouldin says North Warren raises funds through means other than the county and membership fees.
“They come around about once a year and ask for a little extra and I’ve donated extra to them,” said Bouldin. “Then they came by with a little orange sign with our house number on it. I bought one of those. Those are the things North Warren does. I don’t know about the other departments.”
England asked about the chance of the county raising its annual $3,000 donation, to which Bouldin added, “I would say slim to none.”
England added, “Well, this was brought to me and I sure don’t want a fire department in my district to be shut down or possibly shut down.”
This is not the first time commissioners have discussed membership dues not being paid, as well as making the voluntary fee a mandatory one.
“We were talking about putting it on the property taxes,” said Commissioner Charles Morgan. “What happened to that? I have no idea what happened to that. We talked about it. We may not have acted on it, but I do remember we talked about it.”
No one had the answer for Morgan’s question.
The discussion was held during the county Safety Committee meeting Monday with committee members Bouldin, England, Morgan and Commissioners Ron Lee and Teddy Boyd.
No resolution was reached as to how to correct the problem and prevent Harrison Ferry Volunteer Fire Department from closing.