Lawton, OKLa._The Flowermound Volunteer Fire Department is gearing up for it's annual fundraiser Saturday, March 2nd. The money helps the department serve almost 500 businesses and homes in its area. Chief Josh Sullivan says over the past two years, the recent drought has made the wildfire season more active than normal; which is exhausting on firefighters and the department's equipment. He says with the cost of fuel rising and the high price of equipment, volunteer departments like his need all the help they can get.
Sullivan said it costs about thirty-thousand dollars a year to run the department. That money pays for trucks, gear for the firefighters and fuel. He said his department gets four-thousand dollars a year from the state and a thousand dollars a month from the county. Sullivan said that money doesn't go very far, considering his department's average monthly fuel bill is about 1500 dollars a month. He said that is why the annual fundraiser is so important to the department.
When his department is called to put out fires, Sullivan said he's got several things to worry about: protecting the community at risk, putting out the fire and then figuring out the cost.
"With fuel being like it is, with gas at around four dollars a gallon. When we have a lot of grassfires each month or emergency calls car wrecks, our fuel bill can get around 1500 dollars a month. That comes out of our pocket, we're not a municipality we pay for it ourselves", he said.
Volunteer firefighter Rick Guidry said it takes a lot of gas to get the fire trucks going.
"These large pieces of equipment that we operate don't get great gas mileage like you or I's vehicle will do. These trucks may get two or three miles to the gallon", said Guidry.
He said that is just one of the many reasons why donations from the public are so vital to volunteer fire departments.
"This is our life's blood right here, we're all volunteer. We don't draw any salaries, no pay. The funds that we gather at our annual fundraiser is where the majority of our annual fundraising comes from. Not just us but any volunteer fire department ", said Guidry.
Sullivan said donations from the public go a long way in helping his department do what they signed up for: fighting fires and protecting the community. It's an investment he believes is well worth it.
"That is something that goes back to the community to protect their livelihood, their homes. In the rural areas, it's mainly hay stacked up and that could mean the whole years business in one farm. If he loses his grass or has to get rid of his hay. We're not only protecting people's home's we're protecting their livelihoods", he said.
The fundraiser will be held at Flowermound School, which is located at the intersection Southeast Bishop and Flowermound Road. It starts at eleven a.m. and ends at seven p.m. They'll have barbeque and a raffle, and it's all for a good cause.