PONCE DE LEON, Fla. (WMBB) — Ponce De Leon Volunteer Fire Department is in desperate need of more funding.
The county gave the department about $12,000 in funding this year, nearly half of which goes towards fuel costs. They’re still struggling to make ends meet.
“For one firefighter, you’re looking at almost $9,000 to $10,000 just for personal protective equipment needed for an interior firefighter,” said Ponce De Leon Fire Chief Doug Remmel. “When you start adding other funding sources, things like that, needing other equipment, $11,500 just doesn’t get far.”
Ponce De Leon often relies on fundraisers and financial support from the community to make it by. Larger fire departments in the surrounding area help by donating lightly used equipment as well, but they’re in need of other resources, such as a new fire truck, which comes with a big price tag.
“If we were to replace this one right here, this 2010, it was $350,000 when we bought it in 2010,” said Remmel. “Now that same exact truck is probably closer to $500, $600,000 so that’s one of the huge challenges that we have and one of the reasons why we’re trying to get more funding.”
Remmel says he’s asking the county for a $25,000 budget for the department, but County Commissioner Brandon Newsom says the county has to prioritize paying off other projects first.
“The joint venture that we’ve entered into with the Development Commission, we’re paying an amount on interest right now,” said Newsom. “Looking back at the budget and recalling that we actually were in shortfalls over $200,000. We had to come up with different aspects of funding.”
While Ponce De Leon is fighting for a bigger budget, they were given a $2 million grant to rebuild the fire station because the current one was built in the 1970s and isn’t structurally sound.