Local fire department to raise $20,000 for matching grant


“We see people on their worst days and make them better,” Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Mike Morris said. “It (donations) allows our fire department to do what you call 911 for. It’s not funding the people, it’s funding the service.”

Southern Brown Fire Department is raising $20,000 for a Matching Grant through the Community Foundation and the Lilly Endowment Inc. Morris said that the grant is a dollar-for-dollar matching grant and the money needs to be raised by December 2025.

“I went from that’s impossible to I think we can to I know we can do it because of a couple donations that we received recently,” Morris said.

The Department received two donations totaling up to $14,000 and are still looking for donations to cover the remaining $6,000. The funds from the grant will be used for new extrication tools such as jaws of life as well as its batteries and other first aid supplies.

“We have antiquated tools that are hand-me-downs,” Morris said. “They are gas powered, sometimes they work and other times they don’t. During our monthly meeting we go through and try to turn them all on. We just had a saw that would not turn on so I had to bring it down to Bear Hardware to get fixed. That takes up an entire part of a day.”

Brown County Community Foundation Chief Executive Officer Alice Susemichel said that Hamblen, Jackson and Brown County fire departments are also participating in the matching grant alongside Southern Brown Fire Department with a goal of $102,250 county-wide.

Brown County has six volunteer fire departments, Southern Brown, Nashville, Cordry-Sweetwater, Jackson, Hamblen and Fruitdale. These firefighters work without pay while also juggling full-time jobs, community organizations and families.

Morris said that volunteers at Southern Brown typically receive a $260 stipend to cover their own uniforms and gas if the money is left in the budget, but most of them donate their stipends back into the Department.

“Depending on the time of day that affects what type of response you get,” Morris said. “During the middle of the day on a weekday, you are more likely to get a response from a couple of retirees and the farmer down the street because everyone else could be at work. You don’t know what you’re going to be doing, but when you hear the tones you have to just go.”

Morris said that because volunteers do not stay at the station, response times can take around an hour by the time they drive to the Department, grab their materials and get on the road.

“It takes nearly an hour to get you patched up and on the way,” Morris said. “How many people does it take to give a specific level of aid and do we have those? That’s the question. The Golden Hour Alive is an hour. That means that the best time for the highest success rate to have someone receiving medical care is within an hour after the incident. People don’t understand that it’s your friend or your neighbor coming from their houses to help, that’s why we encourage neighbors helping neighbors during emergencies.”

Southern Brown Fire Department is used to raising around $2,000 per year in donations, and this year they are asking for much more. On Aug. 3 they are scheduled to be hosting a car, jeep, truck and motorcycle show from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fire Department (4040 State Road 135 S Nashville) with overflow cars across the street in the Van Buren Elementary School parking lot. The event will have a $20 entry fee. There will also be crafts and advertisement booths set up inside. Booth rental costs $15 and registration for the car show will start at 8 a.m..

All proceeds raised during the event will be added to the matching grant donations.

“How does your donation help us?” Morris asked. “It allows us to have tools, training and techniques to help serve you in your time of need.”

Donations can also be made at the Department or Community Foundation. Donations left with the Community Foundation will need to be specified that they are for the Southern Brown Fire Department

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