Report: More Rural Volunteer Fire Departments Turn to Subscriptions

A new report in the Wall Street Journal discusses how more rural volunteer fire departments are turning to fire subscription fees to help supplement firefighting costs in these cash-strapped times.

The report ( focuses on the Bell County (KY) Volunteer Fire Department has started asking residents to pay a voluntary subscriber fee for fire protection coverage. It also discusses two incidents where South Fulton (TN) firefighters allowed structures to burn where homeowners had not paid their annual subscriber fees.

Volunteer departments get most of their funding from public budgets, which come from taxes or fees paid by insurance-policy holders that insurers route to municipalities, the report notes. Subscribers in these communities are generally paying a supplement, on top of taxes or other fees, for coverage. These fees raise the question of whether locals should be entitled to fire service.

To read the entire report, visit

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