Fire protection could be in jeopardy in parts of rural Jefferson County

A spokesperson for Labelle-Fannett and Cheek volunteer firefighters says the fastest growing areas of Jefferson County could be in jeopardy of losing fire protection in as little as two years.  That is the motivation of supporters of a resolution before voters in the upcoming election.

Currently fire departments must rely on fundraisers, like barbecue sales and occasionally government grants to keep operating, but they don't have a guaranteed revenue base.

The resolution, if passed by voters, would create an emergency services district which would provide tax money to help fund the firefighters.

The Cheek Volunteer Fire Department recently re-started operations after being closed for eight years.

Hurricanes Rita leveled the fire station and Hurricane Ike destroyed the equipment.

Cheek Fire Chief Ken Duhon says neighboring LaBelle-Fannett firefighters kept his community safe.

Chief Duhon says the Bush-Clinton Recovery Fund helped them rebuild.

Chief Duhon says the grant money will not last forever.  Having to depend on LaBelle-Fannett might not be an option anymore because that department also faces financial struggles.

Firefighters from both communities are looking to voters this Saturday to pass a resolution that would create Emergency Services District #4.  They say such a district would provide a reliable source of funding to the fire departments in the district.

If voters approve it, the tax cannot exceed ten cents per $100 of property valuation.

A board appointed by Jefferson County Commissioners will oversee the spending of the funds.

It is estimated that the taxing entity could generate up to $400,000 a year.


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