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Thursday, October 19, 2017
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Davis Lake Volunteer Fire Department

Since 1999 we’ve seen many folks come and go in our community and new homes are being built all the time.  We are often asked why there are two fire departments serving the Springville area and who is covering who.  In response, we’d like to give the history of why there is a Davis Lake Fire Department, Inc. (DLFD) and what it means to you.

A group of concerned citizens met August 1999 to discuss the lack of adequate fire protection for their properties.  For months prior, different groups had met in their immediate neighborhoods to try to find a solution to the escalating problem.  The City of Springville had, in prior years, limited their coverage to within their city limits in order to lower ISO rates and better serve their city. This left over 600 properties they had previously covered within a five mile area outside their city limits without adequate fire and police protection.  Those 600+ properties then relied on St Clair County Sheriff’s department for police protection and US Forestry for fire protection, both located in Ashville and/or Pell City.  The ISO rate for the non-covered area went to a Class 10, the highest rate established.  This meant less fire and police protection, but higher insurance rates.  After meetings with city, county and state officials, attorneys and other fire departments, the general consensus was that the uncovered area needed to form their own fire department.  The August 1999 meeting brought the original group of volunteers and began the long, tedious process of organizing a new, 100% volunteer fire department.

Prior to the organization of DLFD, Springville Fire & Rescue could not leave their city limits to serve the surrounding area without jeopardizing their ISO rate and funding.  However, once DLFD was assigned as First Responder to the area, they could respond with mutual aide and we, in turn, could supply mutual aide to them within the city limits.  Not only with Springville Fire & Rescue, but mutual aide agreements are in effect with all of the surrounding areas’ departments.  With the added resources of personnel and equipment from the area departments, you, the property owner, are better protected.

August to November 1999 was spent organizing the department, filing the necessary paperwork, purchasing fire engines and fire fighting equipment, finding and training volunteer firefighters, securing property for the fire station, and finding the funds to do it all!  The E-911 office provided a list of the properties that the City of Springville had dropped and that became the coverage area for DLFD.  A door-to-door campaign was used to educate the area of the existence of the fire department and to solicit funds to purchase the initial equipment.  Mr. Ray Stevens graciously donated the use of his vacant property, rent free for the first year, where our fire station #1 remains today.  DLFD went into service in January 2000 with trained personnel and the necessary firefighting equipment.

DLFD is not funded by any municipality and was organized as a tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation.  The department can’t rely on a budget provided by the city, county or state.  A 2-mil Ad Valorem tax was voted for and approved in the 1998 general election.  The annual payment from this tax is divided equally among the 34 volunteer fire departments with coverage areas in St Clair County and currently provides us with about $40,000 in operating revenue.  The balance of revenues is from donations (fund raising, fire dues and other contributions).  By 2001, the ISO rate had lowered to a Class 9 and, in 2004, to a Class 5.  This represents tremendous savings on insurance rates for the homeowners in the area.   It also represents a well deserved sense of security and protection for your home and family.

DLFD has also been successful in receiving several grants during the last eight years.  With grant funds, we have been able to purchase new personnel protective gear and turn-outs, a digital thermal imaging machine, educational materials and a Smokey Bear Costume, and a new truck.  Several small, cash grants have enabled DLFD to replace or purchase other fire fighting equipment.

From the beginning, the Board of Directors, Volunteer Firefighters, and active, volunteer members have been dedicated to making DLFD the best volunteer fire department it can be.  That is still our goal, but it requires the participation of everyone within the coverage area.  DLFD has come so far since 1999, but there is still much to be done.  Your support is essential for the continued progress of DLFD!