An East Tennessee fire department says it needs to start charging a fee to the homeowners it serves or it will go bankrupt. But many residents aren't happy about the idea.
The Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department hosted a public meeting on Thursday about implementing a homeowner membership program.
The department's board of directors already approved the plan which would require homeowners to pay a subscription fee based on the square footage of their home every year.
Firefighters say they will not let the homes of residents who don't pay burn, but would charge them afterwards.
Firefighters say a similar program has been successful in Karns.
"That money allowed us to have better training, hire additional firefighters, but a brand new fire engine, and build a long promise, a 14-year promise, to a fire station in Hardin Valley," said Kenneth Martson with the Karns Volunteer Fire Department.
"The fire department just doesn't respond to fires. They respond to medical calls, car accidents, and without them the ambulance may be coming from the other side of the county," said Chief Jeff Bagwell with the Andersonville Volunteer Fire Department.
The department says without the fee, it will go bankrupt in three years.
Money raised would be used to remodel the Belmont Fire House and to hire three to four firefighters on salary to stay at the station 24 hours a day.
The fire department will host another public meeting Monday at 7 p.m. at the Andersonville Fire Station.