A man in uniform is speaking at a podium.
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Ponce de Leon Fire Chief raises concerns over funding shortfall 



There are fire departments in Holmes County ‘running double the calls’ of other departments with comparatively less funding, Ponce de Leon Fire Chief Doug Remmel said during a Holmes County Board of County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Remmel asked commissioners to figure out how to dole out more funding.

‘Last year, we were over 318 calls,’ Remmel said. ‘We had $11,500. Almost half our fuel budget almost takes that whole thing out. That means we can’t purchase any new equipment. If we have a major breakdown with anything, that takes out every bit of that funding.’

A man in uniform is speaking at a podium.
Ponce de Leon Fire Chief Doug Remmel requests more funding for the town’s Volunteer and Fire Rescue department from the Holmes County Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday, Nov. 7. [COLLIN BREAUX | Washington County News and Holmes County Advertiser]

A budget of $25,000 would ‘get us closer to where we need to be,’ Remmel said.

County Commissioner Clint Erickson said he ‘understood where [Remmel] was coming from’ and ‘respect everything you guys do’ but ‘on the flip side’ there ‘is a little bit more to the story than what [Remmel was] telling.’

‘We do help you guys out and what you’re saying is absolutely correct but we should really have these discussions before budget time, which is Oct. 1,’ Erickson said.

Remmel said he brought up concerns last year and was ‘under the assumption’ call numbers would be taken into account during the recent budget cycle but ‘was told it was the same exact thing last year.’

Erickson said he wants to see departments state what grants they can apply for and what their one and two-year plan is. 

‘We’re doing close to $20,000 to $30,000 in fundraisers a year, so it’s not that we’re not busting our butts trying to get this funding up,’ Remmel said. ‘We’re still struggling. Right now, we’ve probably got less than $500-if that-in our account right now from this past year when we got $11,500.’

The years are ‘getting busier and busier’ for Ponce de Leon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, ‘same as the other departments,’ Remmel said.

‘I am asking you to, at least, look at some of the budgets a little more, increase some of it,’ Remmel said. ‘We need more funding to be able to give me that peace of mind so I’m not having to come back later in the year on this same exact topic, when we’re struggling.’

Bunker gear can run $4,000 to $5,000 and an Air-Pak $6,000, he said.

‘That’s not incorporating any of the other apparatus, things like that,’ Remmel said. ‘For one firefighter, almost $10,000 in just personal protective equipment. I can’t replace anything when it gets outdated.’  

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