When it comes to putting out fires, there’s one cost significantly affecting fire departments and that is the cost of fuel.

Duncan Fire Department Chief Larry Sullins talked to the Stephens County Board of Commissioners during Monday’s regular meeting to discuss what it would take to get a tax to help raise money to cover fuel costs for volunteer fire departments in Stephens County.

“There’s been struggles for volunteer fire departments countywide,” Sullins said. “It’s affecting all of them.”

The commissioners said several other counties have taxes set up to help volunteer fire departments with costs, including fuel.

Dee Bowen, commissioner for District 3, said he thinks Grady County is among the counties with such a tax in place.

“I know there’s a few counties that do it,” Bowen said.

Sullins said the volunteer fire departments have been beneficial to the Duncan Fire Department because they help when mutual aid is needed. He said the firefighters work hard without pay.

Both Sullins and Darrell Sparks, commissioner for District 1 and board chairman, said they’ve noticed an increase in grass fires in the past few years. Sparks said grass fires have been picking up since he took office.

Sullins said all departments are keeping busy with grass fires, but volunteer fire departments don’t have definite source of funding and must rely on fundraisers.

He said he is concerned about the volunteer departments because they give so much but are having trouble raising funds.

“They’re really trying, but they’re really struggling,” Sullins said.

Sullins said it doesn’t seem to take much for a grass fire to start. All that’s needed is the right conditions.

“When we don’t get rain for a while and the winds get blowing, you’re going to have something,” he said.

Since the item was brought up under new business on the agenda, the board couldn’t take any action. Even if the commissioners could have taken action, they wouldn’t have been ready to do so.

Sparks said he wanted a bit more information about what it takes to get something done.

The board wants to know the requirements needed to get a tax passed and what other counties have a tax program going to benefit volunteer departments.

Sullins said he would work on it and would return with information at a later date.

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