On Tuesday, May 29, owners of property in most unincorporated areas of Lee County, and those who own property in Smiths Station will have an opportunity to ensure that our rural volunteer fire departments will have sufficient financial support to enable them to continue to provide the services rural residents and property owners have depended on.

I live in an unincorporated area of western Lee County, and, for a while, served on the Board of Directors of the Southwest Lee County Fire Department. I never ceased to be amazed by the dedication, selflessness and expertise displayed by the volunteers with whom I came into contact.

I have on three occasions called to report wildfires in my area, and the volunteers responded promptly and extinguished them.

But fighting fires is only one of the services provided by the fire departments. In fact the vast majority are emergency medical services. The personnel are trained to treat many illnesses resulting from accidents or for other reasons. They are “Johnnies on the Spot” until ambulances arrive.

Voters in each of the six fire districts can vote to allow an increase in the fire fee assessed annually from $25 to $50, which in my opinion is a small price to pay for the services the departments provide. Disapproval of the measure will ultimately result in increases in insurance premiums far greater than proposed fire fee assessment.

I urge qualified voters to mark their calendars, go to the polling places on Tuesday, May 29, and vote “Yes” on the fire fee assessment proposal. We can ill afford to refuse to provide our volunteer fire departments the financial support they desperately need.

– Bob Mount