Waverly Fire Protection District to Appear on March Ballot

By Jeremy Coumbes on January 16, 2024 at 4:53pm

Some area residents will have a choice when it comes to fire and EMS during the upcoming election.

The formation of a Waverly Fire Protection District will be on the March Primary Election ballot The Waverly Volunteer Fire & Rescue Squad requested for a full fire protection district to be formed in the wake of increasing financial and worker strains.

Waverly Fire Chief Jason Shumaker says the all-volunteer organization is 90 to 95% funded solely by donations. “With the way things are changing like the population and everything, a lot of those that were big contributors to the department have died off or left the area, and therefore a lot of our donations have dried up.

We’ve been fortunate to have some businesses that have been able to donate some money off and on. But still, it takes a lot to keep things going to update equipment and that sort of thing. So unfortunately we’ve had to seek a different route and this is the way we ultimately had to go in trying to get a fire protection district.”

Schumaker says Waverly Fire and EMS now handles more EMS calls than fire calls on average, with an estimated 100 to 120 in 2023, and with the continued shortage of EMTs and Paramedics area and nationwide, that need is expected to continue to grow.

The group has two ambulances as well as a rescue vehicle at their disposal, and Shumaker says the calls for EMS and fire have continued to increase. “There’s times we’ve had to respond to neighboring areas because they are not available.

We’ve been to Murrayville, we’ve been into Sangamon County, and had to go over to Virden once when they had the big accident on the interstate. We were the coverage for that area because everybody was tied up over there so we were mutual aid for that. We’ve been on standby with the fire department to go into Loami for fires. So ambulance-wise we do that. Fire department-wise we go into Sangamon County and Morgan County for mutual aid, anywhere they call us.”

If approved by the voters, just under a 0.4% tax would be added annually to fund the Waverly Fire Protection District with both equipment upgrades and personnel needs, as well as increasing insurance costs.

Schumaker says the funding for a fire protection district would not only help keep the fire department equipped but would also aid in providing as much 24-hour ambulance service as possible.

He says as a resident of the area, he sympathizes with those who do not want to pay yet another tax however, he also wants to make sure that local fire and ambulance service can be provided to his community. “I’m included in that because I live there in town. So I have to look at it on what’s best for me and my family and my neighbors. A little bit of extra once a year to know that we’re going to have that coverage and availability for someone to be here potentially, versus not having the service at all.

I have to look at it in that way and I really hope that the citizens do too. Because our reward is going to be that we have the service there to help us when we need it versus not knowing if it’s going to be someone from there in town coming if we have the funds to continue if we had to go a different route, or if it is a neighboring department coming in and having to wait for them.”

The Waverly Volunteer Fire and EMS is in the process of scheduling some town hall meetings to help answer any questions residents have on the fire protection district and the proposed tax needed to fund it.

Shumaker says an announcement of when and where those will be held will hopefully be made available soon.