THAYER, MO (KAIT) - Many volunteer fire departments depend on membership dues from the households they protect. The Thayer, Missouri Rural Fire Department is no different. The chief is asking rural property owners to step up and pay the membership fee.
Chief Mark Arnold opened one of the doors at the station and stood beside one of the pumpers. "We get a lot of calls from people who are not members and you get a call, just a basic call could run you anywhere from 3 to 500 dollars just for the response."
If your household is not a member of the Thayer Rural Fire Department and it only costs 35 bucks a year. It can wind up costing you a lot more if you have a fire.
Arnold, "We charge for the apparatus, the initial response and for however many men were there."
For example...A large house fire will cost 100 for the initIal response. You need at least 2 fire trucks at 150 each and say 10 fire fighters at 15 bucks an hour for 3 hours. That's a minimum of 850 that you could get billed for. On top of your losses in the fire.
The chief says that they would also bill for foam usage or damage to a set of turnouts or hoses or other equipment.
Thayer just increased dues from 25 dollars per year to 35 that's the first increase in over a decade. Chief Arnold says the price is still pretty reasonable.
Arnold, "There's other departments in the area that charge 45 dollars. There's some that charge 60 and 100 dollars."
The Thayer Rural Fire Department covers about a hundred square miles. The chief says there are a lot of non dues paying households out there.
Arnold, "We realize that there's probably about 800 to a 1000 households in this area and we're running somewhere about 300 to 350 memberships."
And it's those memberships that pay for fuel, equipment and other expenses the department encounters. They are only occasionally helped out by a grant.
Arnold, "It would be tough on our department to be able to maintain the equipment that we've got and have the services we provide if we didn't have memberships."
"Collecting these dues is like the ebb and flow of the tide." says Arnold. "Some folks will renew their memberships then there are some folks that forget to then maybe 3 or 4 months later on they'll come back and then there's some that completely that forget all along and we never hear from them again."
For new members there is a form to fill out including directions to your home, then once a year a reminder is mailed out. Since the memberships are staggered it keeps money coming in year round.
Chief Arnold says one thing that he wants residents in the area to understand is that membership or not...
"We'll go wherever we're called. We don't discriminate about that. We'll worry about the administrative paperwork later."
There are 3 payment options. You can drop off your dues at either the Thayer City Hall or the Thayer Police Department or you can mail your dues to box 266 in Thayer. That goes right to the fire department.