Process begins to form two rural fire districts

Friday, February 8, 2013
Map showing the two rural fire protection associations in question to become a district. (Graphic by Carlos Restrepo with information Marshall Fire Department)

The formation of two new fire protection districts will be up for hearing Thursday, Feb. 14, at the Saline County Circuit Court.

The Saline County and the Slater Rural Fire Protection Associations have filed petitions to become fire districts, which would allow them to collect taxes for their services.

Currently, the rural associations are funded through a membership system where residents pay to have the association's services in case of a fire. When firefighters from the rural association respond to a fire of a non-member, that resident is billed for the costs incurred in putting out the fire.

"Right now, our association has around 1,500 people that live in it, but only about 400 of those are members, and a lot of people don't realize that they need to be members," said Richard Clemens, treasurer for the Saline County Rural Fire Protection Association. "So when they have a fire we go and put it out and afterward they get a sizable bill of $2,000 as a non member. We felt it's not right for the people who are members to carry the whole load by themselves for equipment and other costs."

If County Judge Dennis Allen Rolf approves the associations' petitions, a special election will be held in August, when residents in those districts will vote on three items: the formation of the district; a maximum of 30 cents tax levy and the election of a board of directors for the district.

Currently, the Marshall Fire Protection Department aids the Saline County Fire Association in fighting fires, storing and protecting much of their equipment. Marshall Fire Chief Tony Day said he supported the formation of the new fire districts.

"It will make it safer for the entire county," Day said.

Contact Carlos Restrepo atcrestrepo@marshallnews.com

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