Edmonson County Fiscal Court approves fire tax increase

BROWNSVILLE, Ky. – Being a firefighter is a demanding job.

Sometimes being a volunteer firefighter can be even more of a challenge.

“It’s taxing,” said Tyler Cannon, assistant fire chief at the Chalybeate Volunteer Fire Department in Edmonson County. “It’s real hard to devote all the time we do.”

A lot of time, yet for no pay.

It becomes even harder to do their job when their equipment, vehicles and station buildings are not up to date.

“There’s quite a few of us that doesn’t have equipment that’s in date, so they wouldn’t be able to perform firefighter duties if they needed to,” added Cannon.

Some of the equipment used by firefighters has a 10-year life span. Once the gear exceeds that time period, they are no longer allowed to use it in a live-fire situation – only in exercises and training.

Getting new gear and equipment, though, can be time-consuming and expensive.

In order to address both those issues, fire chiefs from the six volunteer fire departments in Edmonson County made a request at the fiscal court’s May 28 meeting, requesting that the court raise the fire dues of Edmonson County residents by $5.

“When they come to me and tell me they need an increase to help with their finances, we looked into it immediately,” said Wil Cannon, Edmonson County judge executive.

The court assessed the needs of all six departments, with Canon adding that, “It was apparent that most of them did need it.”

Thus, the 20% increase from $25 to $30 was approved by the fiscal court at their meeting on June 10.

“By allowing a $5 increase on the dues, it, in a way, we’re telling them thank you for what you do, and we want to support you,” Cannon said.

It’s been nearly three decades since the last time fire dues were raised for Edmonson County residents.

While the volunteer fire departments have managed to get by with the $25 dues during that time span, inflation has led to a greater need for funding.

Despite the dues adjustment, Cannon said they’re still the lowest in the area.

“Even at $30, we’re going to be the cheapest fire dues, as far as I know, in all of the surrounding counties,” he said.

A $5 increase might not seem like much, but to firefighters, it could mean the difference between life and death out on the job.

“It’ll add up real quick if everyone in the community put in that extra $5,” said Tyler Cannon. “I believe we’d be able to supply more personal protective equipment to our firefighters.”

The following six fire volunteer departments will receive the below-listed income as a result of the 20% fire dues increase:

  • Chalybeate – $7,695
  • Bear Creek – $5,190
  • Kyrock – $11,115
  • Lincoln – $11,470
  • Rocky Hill – $4,130
  • Wingfield – $2,610