The Adairville mayor has been working for some time to try and get a piece of state legislation changed that would benefit fire departments all over the state of Kentucky.
Jim Wilkerson, who is also a member of the Adairville Rural Fire Department Board of Directors, has been trying to get the amount of money an insurance company can be charged for making a fire run increased.
“I’m trying to get it before anyone in government that I can,” Wilkerson said.
Wilkerson said he has made presentations before the Kentucky League of Cities and has spoken with state representative Martha Jane King about the issue.
Currently, the Kentucky state law that applies to fire departments charging for fire runs (Kentucky Revised Statute 74.400) says that insurance companies are liable for only up to $500 per run.
“Every year they have increased my insurance premiums,” Wilkerson said. “And that law has been on the books since 1994 and it has not changed. I think that the $500 needs to be increased.”
Currently, most rural volunteer fire departments charge an annual membership fee for residents in their area.
If individuals pay the membership fee and they need the fire department, they are charged either nothing or a small fee for the fire run.
Non-members are charged more, however.
The Adairville Rural Fire Department, for example, charges $250 for members and $750 for non-members.
If they make a fire run to a non-members home, the homeowner’s insurance will only pay $500 because that is all the Kentucky state law requires.
Wilkerson said that requiring the insurance companies to pay more would help many of the state’s rural fire departments.
“In order for them to get more, the state is going to have to allow more,” Wilkerson said. “I think the law is okay. It spells everything out fine, but that amount of money that can be charged just needs to be changed.”
The Adairville Rural department recently bought a 3,000-gallon tanker truck, but there is nowhere to put it.
The current fire hall, which Adairville rural shares with the city fire department, is not big enough to hold the tanker, which is sometimes housed at the Adairville Feed Mill.
“We need to build a new addition to the fire hall just so we have someplace to put it,” Wilkerson said. “It’s just sitting out in the elements sometimes.”
And something like that is going to take money - something most rural departments don’t have much of.
By changing the law to require insurance companies to pay more, Wilkerson said, rural fire departments would have a better stream of revenue to work with.
“They would not need to increase a tax at all,” Wilkerson said. “They would just need to raise the rate to compel the insurance companies to pay the fire departments more.”