Auditor McGuiness: Volunteer Fire Service Saved Delawareans $255.7M for FY21, Annual Fire Report Shows
DOVER, DEL. – State Auditor Kathy McGuiness estimates the state’s volunteer fire service saved Delaware taxpayers nearly $255.7 million in fiscal year 2021.
“Delaware’s fire service is, and always has been, a tremendous asset to Delawareans,” McGuiness said. “As my team does every year, they performed a detailed cost analysis and identified what it would cost taxpayers to have an entirely state-employed fire service instead of having mostly volunteers.”
While the state has no plans to transform Delaware’s combination system into an entirely state-employed one, McGuiness’ office performs these calculations annually to show the fiscal value of having dedicated volunteer firefighters and EMTs.
“If the state were to have a fully state-employed fire service, it would cost Delawareans an exorbitant amount in property taxes,” McGuiness said. “For every $1,000 of a home’s assessed value, those residents would pay an additional $10.51. That means for a home assessed at $100,000, it would cost those residents an additional $1,051 in property taxes each year – just to support a fully state-employed fire service.”
McGuiness again recommends in this year’s report that the General Assembly consider creating a fund independent of Grant-In-Aid in the state budget to help pay for fire services.
“It takes adequate training, funding and resources to protect the public,” McGuiness continued. “To keep pace with call volume, career and volunteer fire service members need our support in ensuring proper funding to continue the long-standing and proud tradition the fire service has in Delaware.”
The Delaware Office of the State Fire Marshal reminds all citizens and visitors of Delaware that fireworks are illegal to possess, use, or sell in the State of Delaware. This includes sparklers and sky lanterns.
Fireworks can cause serious injuries or death. Temperatures for a burning sparkler can exceed 1200 degrees Fahrenheit Projectiles from exploded fireworks can cause eye injuries, burns, and amputations of fingers. An estimated 11,900 people were treated in the nation’s hospitals in 2015 for injuries related to the use of fireworks. The highest number of injuries (8,000) occurred around the July Fourth holiday.
Fires can be started easily by exploding fireworks causing property damage especially in the dry summer months. During the evening hours it is very difficult to spot a fire starting during the fire’s incipient (early) stage. Fires may erupt from discharged fireworks well after the initial explosion. Burning fireworks can land in dry grass or on the roof of house without any one detecting the danger. Fires on a roof may smolder for an extended time before breaking out in flames visible from the ground.
Please leave fireworks in the hands of professionals by attending a professional fireworks show in lieu of creating your own show. The public displays are conducted by licensed professionals and the firework sites are inspected and receive approval prior to the events.
Penalties for the use of fireworks or possession of fireworks are misdemeanors subject to a fine. Damage or injuries caused by the use of fireworks can result in felony charges.
For additional information please contact your local fire company or fire marshal’s office.
Delaware Forest Service offers volunteer fire grants
DOVER − The Delaware Forest Service (DFS) is offering up to $4,500 in grants to help fire companies in the First State improve their readiness and ability to fight wildfires. The deadline is May 1 and the form is available on-line. Funded by the U.S. Forest Service, the Volunteer Fire Assistance (VFA) program has provided more than 120 grants worth almost $300,000 to Delaware volunteer fire companies over the past 10 years.
“Volunteer fire companies are very important to the Delaware Forest Service and the citizens of the First State. They are the invaluable first responders to all types of emergencies, including wildfires in our fields, woods, and marshlands,” said Kyle Hoyd, Assistant State Forester and director of the agency’s Wildland Fire Program. “This grant program can help companies increase their capability to meet this need by matching their spending on specialized wildfire equipment and resources.”
PHOTO: Delaware Forest Service veteran wildland firefighter James Dowd holds a fire shovel and a Pulaski tool (see below), commonly used in wildland firefighting. Volunteer fire companies in Delaware can apply for grants to purchase equipment to fight wildfires in their communities. (click image for high-resolution version)
All grants require a 50-50 cost-share match and priority will be given to applicants that have not received funding in the past three years. The VFA grant program has proven to be a cost-effective way to leverage limited federal funding. While grant applicants must provide at least 50 percent cost-share match in cash or in-kind services, many recipients have often provided more – producing an average of $1.61 in matched spending. Funds can be used to pay for specialized equipment to help volunteer firefighters meet the unexpected and often unpredictable threat of wildfires in fields, forests, open spaces, and marshes, which is often distinctly different from structural firefighting.
Applications must be received by the Delaware Forest Service, 2320 S. DuPont Highway, Dover, 19901 no later than May 1, 2017.
Please make note of the submission instructions at the bottom of the application.
Funds may not be used to purchase vehicles (trucks/UTV’s/ATV’s) or structural firefighting gear (turnout coats, hardhats, gloves, lights, etc.) Funding is for wildland firefighting hose, safety gear, brush unit pumps/skids, and hand tools. Fire companies with any questions about the application process or what can be purchased can contact Kyle Hoyd at (302) 698-4548 or Kyle.Hoyd@delaware.gov.
In the past fiscal year, the Delaware Forest Service assisted 43 of Delaware’s 60 volunteer fire companies (72%) either through wildfire suppression, loaning of equipment, or training. In addition to the fire assistance grants, the Delaware Forest Service also provides funding to help provide basic wildland firefighting courses for volunteer firefighters. The Delaware Forest Service also works in association with the Delaware State Fire School to help train wildland firefighters.
Cooking Fire in Dover Injured One Person
The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office has determined that this afternoon’s fire in Dover, DE was accidental.
The blaze, reported shortly before 3:00 pm, occurred in the unit block of State Circle, Capitol Park. The Dover Fire Department responded to the call and extinguished a fire inside the kitchen of the dwelling.
A 50 year old female occupant was transported to Bayhealth – Kent General Hospital with burns to her left shoulder and left foot. She is in good condition.
State fire investigators were called to the scene and completed the investigation. The fire originated on the stove top when cooking oil ignited after being left unsupervised. The smoke alarms in the home alerted the occupants to the fire. Fire damage was estimated at $5,000.
Contact Person: Michael G. Chionchio, Assistant State Fire Marshal at (302) 739-5665.
Colonial Heights House Fire
February 21, 2015
The Delaware State Fire Marshal’s office is investigating a fire that heavily damaged a Wilmington, Delaware home.
The Elsmere Fire Company was dispatched to the 200 block of South Ford Avenue in Colonial Heights for a house fire shortly before 1:00 am. Firefighters arrived on scene with flames shooting from the dwelling.
State fire investigators were called to the scene. Investigators are currently conducting the investigation into the origin and cause of this fire.
Heavy fire damage was estimated at $150,000. The home was not occupied when the fire was discovered. There were no reported injuries.
For more information, please contact Assistant State Fire Marshal, Michael Chionchio at 302-739-5665.