Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Abernant Fire Department Ceasing Operation

Newspaper article The Tuscaloosa News

Abernant Fire Department Ceasing Operation

Article excerpt

The Abernant Fire Department will cease emergency operations at the end of the month.

Chief Brian Scott said Tuesday that there isn't enough financial support or qualified firefighters to serve that area of eastern Tuscaloosa County.

"We just can't do it," he said. "We were hoping that there would be a turnaround but the support is just not there."

He said that there are around 7,500 residences in the 51-square- mile area the department covers. Residents were asked to pay $50 per structure annually. People with vacant lots were asked to pay $7.50 each year.

"We only collected 33 percent of the fire dues that were available to be collected. After paying our liability insurance, that gives us less than $1,000 to operate," he said.

The one department-owned fire truck needed $600 alone in repairs, he said.

Volunteer firefighters are required by the state to complete mandatory training each year. Scott used his own money to pay for an online course and the accompanying books for the seven firefighters. All but two dropped out.

The department has been without a building for about a year after a lease dispute. They had planned to relocate the metal building to property nearby on Alabama Highway 216, but it wouldn't have made sense financially, Scott said.

"We have property and enough funds to put the building up, but not enough for electricity and water," he said.

Abernant has a Class 8 Rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), Scott said. ISO assigns ratings from 1 to 10, based on the quality of public fire protection in an area.

The higher the number, the more homeowners pay in insurance. Tuscaloosa has an ISO rating of 3.

ALFA Insurance agent Darin Crain, whose office is in Coaling, said that his office has used a 7/9 rating for homes in the Abernant area for the last year. Homes within 1,000 feet of a standard fire hydrant pay based on an ISO Class 7 rating, while remaining ones paid based on an ISO Class 9 rating. Homes more than five miles from a responding fire department will be rated Class 10, which he said could mean residents there will be paying more.

Someone with a $100,000 home less than three years old who lives within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant would pay an average of $700 a year. …

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