South Marshall County fire departments merge

The Aurora Ross and Hardin South Marshall fire departments are now working together as one to better protect thousands of people in Marshall County. The stations began operating as the South Marshall Fire Department at the beginning of 2016.

About four years with the Aurora Ross Fire Department, and firefighter Gary Henry has gotten used to waiting for his phone to ring.

"You never know when your getting a call," Henry said.

He says a merger with the Hardin fire department is happening at the perfect time. In the past year, calls the department responds to have just about doubled. 

"We’ve needed everybody on scene, I mean, everybody really pitched in," Henry said.
 
This is why Fire Chief Ricky Sirls says he agreed when he was approached by the Hardin department about a merger.

"In today’s life, not a lot of people are volunteering anymore with the demand of the jobs, and so forth. Some people are even holding down two jobs," Sirls said.

Before, each station covered a five-mile area around them with about two to three volunteers available during the day. Now, between the two stations about six people will be available per day.
 
Not only do the departments have more manpower, but they also have more equipment. With the merger they have twice as much equipment, and that means more water when responding to fires.

"It’s good for the community. It’s good for our safety," Sirls said.

Sirls says the merger also means the station’s budgets are combined.

"You put that together and all of a sudden you have another piece of equipment," he said.

That’s another step in improving response times. 

The South Marshall Fire Department is still restructuring their volunteer positions. Sirls is the chief of the merged department, while Hardin’s former chief is now working as a firefighter.  These are all volunteer positions, so no one is facing a pay cut.

The cost of fire insurance is staying the same.The fire chief says that means homeowners won’t pay more.

The fire chief says even with the merger, there’s still a need for volunteers. If you’re interested, contact the South Marshall Fire Department at 270-474-3056. 

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