VFDs’ wish list stays the same year-round: members, volunteers
If the 15 volunteer fire departments that serve Ozark County had a Christmas wish list, more volunteers and dues-paying members would probably be right there at the top of it. And this time of year, with many Ozark Countians firing up wintertime wood stoves and electric heaters, the risk of structure fires increases – and so do the pressures on those fire departments.
That means joining the fire department that serves your area as a volunteer and paying annual membership dues are especially important “gifts” right now because Ozark County’s volunteer fire departments not only serve you, they also depend on you to maintain the vital services they provide for the community.
If you’re new to the area and don’t know which district serves your property, call Ozark County Emergency Management Director Curtis Ledbetter at the Ozark County Sheriff’s Department, 417-679-4633.
Residents are reminded that fire department dues are a bargain, considering that dues-paying members are not charged when the volunteer fire department responds to a fire on their property, but state statue allows departments to charge fees, often based on the number of firefighters and time spent in the response, when a department responds to non-member incidents. And that can amount to hundreds of dollars.
Residents may become new VFD members anytime of the year, regardless of when annual dues are “due.” Here’s a list of where to send dues and how to get involved in your volunteer fire department.
About 100 to 120 households make up the Brixey-Rockbridge Volunteer Fire Department’s membership, which covers about 250 properties total. Dues are $40 and can be mailed to RBVFD Treasurer, 33941 State Highway 95, Brixey, MO 65618. Payment is due by the department’s annual meeting, which is usually held in February. The department has four primary volunteers, plus a few others who help when they can. “But the number of firefighters doesn’t tell the whole story,” said board president Daniel Roth in an email to the Times. “For example, our particular district is divided by the river, so our minimal crew can become even more minimal when the river is up. On the other hand, even with an understaffed crew (which I think we have had on several occasions over the last 20 years), we sometimes bring benefit to other areas to an unexpected degree. For example, our tanker truck and our location allow us to respond with a large supply of river water when other districts need support.” To become a volunteer, call Chief Peter Pappas at 319-333-8877.
Caney Mountain VFD
The Caney Mountain Volunteer Fire Department’s 160 members make up just over half of the residents in the department’s coverage area. Dues are $45 for households and $60 for businesses, and are due at the end of September. Checks can be mailed to 4502 County Road 103, Gainesville, MO 65655. Those interested in joining the department’s 16 volunteers can call CMVFD treasurer Shirrley Williams at 417-712-1657. Board elections were held in November; these officers are now serving: Tammy Peat, president; Jerry “Reaper” Wright, vice president; Robin Peat, secretary; Shirrley Williams, treasurer; Jo Bogowith, member at large. Follow Caney Mountain Volunteer Fire Department on Facebook for more information.
The Caulfield Volunteer Fire Department has 260 members, which is about 38 percent of the residents in its district. Dues are $35 a year and are calculated based on when membership started, but the department plans to move to a single annual renewal date soon to make things simpler. The department currently has nine volunteers. Those interested in volunteering can call Chief Shannon Sisney at 417-719-9911, extension 4. Dues and donations can be mailed to P.O. Box 92, Caulfield, MO 65626. For updates, visit the Caulfield Membership Fire Department page on Facebook. A meeting regarding changes to the bylaws was held following board member elections in November.
Cloud 9 VFD
Although Cloud 9 Ranch’s fire department mainly serves the 6,500-acre Cloud 9 property in Caulfield, it does respond to nearby calls and provides mutual aid to other departments when needed. Rather than collecting membership dues, the department is funded though donations and fundraisers. Fire Chief Joey Hedrick said the department has 34 total volunteers, with no fewer than 15 usually available at any given time. To volunteer, call Hedrick at 417-204-2155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Between 232 and 250 residents of the 696 living in the district are members of the Dora Volunteer Fire Department. Dues are $45 a year and can be mailed to Donna Epley, 505 County Road 192, Dora, MO 65637. Payment is due Sept. 1. Although the department added two new firefighters this year, bringing the total to six, the department is still in dire need of volunteers, said Chief Monte Shipley, adding, “Two of us are over 70, and I’m pushing 70. If they want a department, someone will have to volunteer.” Call Shipley at 417-284-3930 to get involved, and visit the Dora Volunteer Fire Department Facebook page for more information.
Lick Creek VFD
The Lick Creek Valley Volunteer Fire Department has 224 members, and there are about 339 properties in its district. Yearly dues are $40 a year for individual households, $60 for two or more homes, or $80 for businesses. Payment is due March 15 and can be mailed to Membership Committee, 14411 County Road 522, Gainesville, MO 65655, or it can be dropped off at Miller’s Store at Highways 160 and J. Fifteen volunteers are on the roster. Chief Jerry Rowlett reminds residents that Lick Creek VFD does not fill swimming pools. Call 417-679-4577 or email email@example.com to volunteer. For more information, visit the Lick Creek Valley Volunteer Fire Department page on Facebook.
Pontiac / Price Place VFD
There are about 270 households in the Pontiac/Price Place Volunteer Fire Department’s district, and most of them are members, a spokesperson said. Dues, which are collected Jan. 1 through March 1, can be mailed to P.O. Box 1, Pontiac, MO 65729. The cost is $60 per household or $125 for a business. The department has 23 volunteers but is in need of more, especially volunteers who can respond during the week. Those interested should call 417-989-0105. For more information, visit the Pontiac/Price Place Volunteer Fire Department.
Most of the Pottersville Volunteer Fire Department’s coverage area is in Howell County, but some Ozark County residents are included. The department has 325 total members, which is about 50 percent of area residents. Dues are $40 a year and are collected a year from when membership started. Payment can be mailed to P.O. Box 34, Pottersville, MO 65790. Fourteen volunteers are on the current roster. Those interested in volunteering can call the department at 417-256-4848. For more information, visit the Pottersville Fire Department Facebook page.
Membership for the Tecumseh Volunteer Fire Department fluctuates between 280 and 320 households. Dues are $45 a year and go up depending on the number of properties and whether they are residential or commercial. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 413, Tecumseh, MO 65760, and should be paid a year from when membership started. The department has 14 volunteers on its roster. To learn more about volunteering, call the department at 417-284-1606. Events and other information can be found on the Tecumseh Volunteer Fire Department’s Facebook page. “We’re not just for fires,” said Israel, who noted that first responders are on call 24 hours a day for motor vehicle accidents and other medical emergencies.
Theodosia Area VFD
The Theodosia Area Volunteer Fire Department has about 700 members, which accounts for most residences in the area. Membership dues, which are $65 the first year, then $55 to renew, are collected Sept. 1. Chief John Lubbers reminds residents that late fees are levied for delinquent dues. They can be mailed to P.O. Box 59, Theodosia, MO 65761. The department currently has 14 volunteers. “We have a great group of firefighters now that are very community oriented,” said Lubbers. Call him at 417-273-4323 to become a volunteer, and follow Theodosia Area Volunteer Fire Department on Facebook to keep up with department activities.
The Thornfield Volunteer Fire Department has 150 members, which is about 50 percent of the total residents in the area. Dues are $35 if paid by January of each year, and $45 if paid after Feb. 1. Payment can be mailed to P.O. Box 243, Thornfield, MO 65762. The department has 10 volunteers and can always use more, a spokesperson said. Those who would like to get involved can call board president Larry Tucker at 417-527-1117. “It’s been a good year; our medical first responders do a tremendous job,” said Tucker.
Timber Knob VFD
The Timber Knob Volunteer Fire Department has 125 members. “Most people in the area are members. Our area is really good about paying,” said Chief Nancy Winslow. Membership dues are $50 a year and are due Jan. 1. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 132, Gainesville, MO 65655. The department has 30 volunteers, and Winslow says anyone interested in volunteering can attend a meeting the first Monday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Timber Knob VFD firehouse on W Highway at Highway 5 south. Timber Knob is also part of the Ozark County Honor Guard that leads the parade at Hootin an Hollarin, oversees flag retirements and appears at funerals and other events. When a firefighter dies, the honor guard “honors them a fireman’s way,” said Winslow.
Membership ranges from 250 to 275 for the Wasola Volunteer Fire Department, and that is about 50 percent of residents in the coverage area. Dues, which can be mailed to P.O. Box 413, Wasola, MO 65773, are $45 a year. Payment is due a year from when the member joined. The department has 12 to 15 volunteers. Those interested in getting involved should call 417-300-3754.