Today, Rowan County continues to have the same 21 rural fire departments operating that it has always had. This is saying a lot because in many counties, rural fire departments have been forced to close. This can be due to many reasons such as loss of interest of volunteers, loss of money (many times caused by annexation of a city), or combination with another rural department of contract their fire protection with a city.
In the mid-1970s, Ellis ran about 12 calls a year; in 2012, Ellis ran 295 (a low number for Rowan County as some rural fire departments run a lot more). Fire departments now have more regulations with which to comply. The costs of operating a fire department has also increased, almost to the point that some can’t keep up. Volunteers are also getting harder to find and keep and this has forced some fire departments to hire paid staff to answer calls during the daytime hours. Many departments recognize the need for paid staff, but cannot find the money to hire them.
Get involved with your local rural fire department to see how you can help. You may not be able to be a firefighter, but there are lots of other things to do. Remember a rural fire department is a business: we need board members, fire commissioners, bookkeepers, house cleaners, groundskeepers, maintenance people, mechanics, etc. Go to the annual meeting and get involved; everyone can help for the betterment of the community.