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Madison County Commission provides much needed support to volunteer fire departments

HUNTSVILLE — Madison County has been cited as one of the nation’s top emerging housing markets in the United States.

While schools and roads are built to keep up with the growth, another entity doesn’t get the attention but remains vital – particularly outside the Huntsville and Madison city limits.

There are 16 volunteer fire departments in the rural areas of Madison County. While these departments do have a critical role in protecting lives and property from fires, the name is a bit of a misnomer and doesn’t take into account the many responses for emergency calls.

They also provide rescue services, and a vast majority of their calls are emergency medical technician support to HEMSI.

“These volunteers do a tremendous job in providing important services to the sprawling suburban and rural areas,” Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong said.

The Madison County Commission recently approved community development block grants for each of the 16 volunteer fire departments in rural Madison County.

In addition to the $15,000 community development block grant members of the Madison County Commission approved, state lawmakers added more than $10,000 for continued COVID relief.

While a small tax of real estate taxes (3 mills or $3 per each $1,000 of property value) helps fund the basic operations of a volunteer fire department, many of them supplement their budget with private fund raising and local and federal grants.

These departments have an ally in Strong.

His father, Horace, was the founder of the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department. Strong has served as a volunteer fireman in the Monrovia Volunteer Fire Department since he was a teenager.

Today, Strong continues to make occasional runs with the Monrovia department despite his sizable responsibilities as commission chairman.

Toney Volunteer Fire Department President Heath Jones sees the grant as being crucial for emergency calls. And, he already has a wish list.

“Airway suction units, advanced airways. We’re also going to purchase Narcan to administer in the field if needed (to reduce the effects of opioids). Also, we’re going to get EMTs new trauma bags,” Jones said.

“Anything we can do to support their efforts improves our chances to save lives and property,” Strong said.

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