Call for Donations Shows Alabama Volunteer Fire Departments’ Tax Dollar Restrictions

Tax dollars cannot be spent on water and electrolyte drinks

FirefighterNation Staff

MOBILE COUNTY, Alabama – WPMI reports that volunteer fire departments across Alabama are in desperate need of water and electrolyte drinks as the summer heat sets in.

According to state guidelines, volunteer fire departments cannot spend tax dollars on these items: salaries, food, drinks, expenses related to fundraisers, appliances, and magazine subscriptions unrelated to firefighting.

Brandie Johnston, a member of the McIntosh Volunteer Fire Department, told WPMI that they only receive approximately $36,000 a year from Washington County and none of it can be spent on essential items they need.

“Water, Gatorade, food, t-shirts, awards, doing a Christmas banquet, hand sanitizer, gloves, supplies for our rescue boats, all has to be donated or come out of a general fund made up of monetary donations,” Johnston said.

Belforest Volunteer Fire Department Chief David Allen said this is nothing new, but people may not realize the firefighters cannot use their tax funds for specific purchases.

“It’s been that way as long as I’ve been a firefighter,” Chief Allen told WPMI

As it gets even hotter outside, firefighters rely on hydration so they can do their jobs at 100%.

“We can be on a scene for 15 minutes or five hours depending on the type of situation that we run into, and we don’t always have time to run down to the corner store to grab something to drink. So, we need to be able to take our water with us,” Allen said.

“We want to make sure that, when it’s 100 degrees outside, the humidity is high, that we can hydrate our guys. Otherwise, we are calling the ambulance to come give IV’s,” Johnston said.