SALINE COUNTY, Ark. — Lately, it almost seems like the cost of everything has been rising.
Chief Fire Marshal, Dustin Free, has been part of the East End Fire Department for about 10 years, and he explained how the cost of running it has also gone up.
“Price of the air packs and price of the turnout gear is not the same price it was,” said Free.
Free also explained that the fire department has been in need of a few things that cost a lot.
“$36,000 worth of equipment that has to be bought to protect the firefighters in the event of a fire,” said Free. “A ladder truck is needed; we're relying on the Little Rock Fire Department and it's a minimum of about a 30-minute drive to get out here.”
In November, the community voted to pass a fee increase— and Free said that this will be able to help them.
“Before it was $95 per parcel in this area. It has gone up now to $140. So, it was a $45 increase,” said Free.
This fee is annual, and Free said that though it may sound like a lot, it isn't.
“Really not even enough to purchase that ladder truck that we're talking about,” Free added.
Free also added how more than anything they're thankful because without this extra help they wouldn’t have been able to continue responding to all emergencies as quickly as possible.
“We were taking a chance of losing the night crew if it wasn't for the increase of this fire dues because there wouldn't be enough money in the budget to be able to just pay for the staffing,” Free described.
Their fire chief has been continually working to make sure they get what they need.
“Instead of trying to go for a brand-new ladder truck, which cost a million dollars to start, he is going to start looking to buy a used car truck, the one that has still got good mileage and still in good shape,” said Free.
Free expressed hope that they continue getting support from the people that call Saline County their home
“We’re excited to be able to take this money that they're paying in to be able to use to give them a service back,” said Free.