One of the major problems that every fire department faces is funding.
Alan Bohms, the Executive Director of the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance, is trying to help change that.
With the help of State Rep. Jeremy Faison, Bohms has been traveling Cocke County selling $10 cards that give the purchaser discounts to local restaurants and services.
Rep. Faison purchased all of the cards that are being sold in the county by Bohms and the various county’s fire departments. With the purchase price being taken care of, all of the proceeds from the sales can go straight to the individual departments.
Bohms knows that this kind of generosity is something that is extremely needed in support of these departments.
“What people don’t realize is that 541 out of 615 fire departments in the state are volunteer based. They aren’t getting paid to do this job. With these cards we are generating money that goes straight to the departments, and it’s something that can make a big difference.”
Bohms said that since May of this year with this program and the various others that he provides, he has managed to raise $31,000 in five counties, all in support of their fire departments.
Bohms knows that raising money can be difficult for small departments and that the suppers and boot drives aren’t always enough.
“At my department we have dinners almost every month, and I know that people don’t want to go door to door and sell these things, but I would rather do this and let people know how difficult things really are for us.”
The Volunteer Firefighter Alliance and Bohms have given free fire safety materials to 13 counties in East Tennessee. They have given out free smoke detectors as well as free installation, all at no cost to the taxpayers.
Bohms said that it is important for the local communities to contact him and his organization with any needs they may have.
“Just the other day I was told about two deaf individuals who needed bed shakers instead of a standard smoke alarm in their home. I managed to get in contact with some people and get two of them for free. These things usually cost $80 or more each, so providing them at no cost is huge.”
Another program Bohms is trying to spread locally is the Tennessee Yellow Dot Program.
This program is designed to let first responders know exactly who and what they are dealing with once they arrive on an accident scene.
“The majority of calls we go out on are car accidents. With this program, a yellow dot is placed on the back of your car. Once we see that, we know to go and check the glove box where we will see a yellow packet that has your name, picture, any medications you are taking, hospitals you prefer and any previous medical conditions you have listed. This can be the difference in saving someone’s life.”
In addition to these programs, Bohms is also helping local departments apply for grants that can help the departments acquire new gear.
For more information on the Volunteer Firefighter Alliance and their projects visit www.supportvfa.org.