Rural Morgan County fire protection- not having it can be costly

By Nick Kovatch on December 8 at 10:47am

If you have a home, business, or farm just outside the city limits of Jacksonville, you have until the end of the year to get fire protection.

But if history is an indication, not everyone will sign up, and that can prove costly.
Our reporting partners at ABC Newschannel 20 talked to Jacksonville Fire Chief Rick Kluge.

“We have some people that will sign up for one year and then skip a year and then come back another year, just kind of take a chance,” says Kluge.

Every year, owners or occupants of rural commercial, industrial, residential, and farm property, located within a certain radius of Jacksonville, but outside the city limits, have an option to pay for fire protection with the city.

John Mullens, who lives just north of the city, pays for it.

“The main reason is, if you don’t have fire protection, a lot of insurers won’t pay anymore,” Mullens says.

The annual fire protection subscription fee is a formula based on the property’s value. The subscription is not mandatory, but if you don’t sign up, and the fire department responds to your emergency, expect a steep bill.

“There are times I’ve sent out bills for more than $1,000,” Kluge says.

If you want fire protection with the city of Jacksonville, you must sign up at the city clerk’s office by December 31st.

“I’ve seen some instances around the area, where they got there very quickly,” Mullens says.

The Jacksonville fire chief also says, if you’re not signed up for protection, the process it takes to get someone to your emergency can be longer. Residents who live in other rural parts of Morgan County can also get fire protection. It depends on where they live. It may be from places like South Jacksonville, Chapin, or Arenzville.