Fire Chief Kevin Nunn speaks at the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department forum. (The Herald/ Joe King)

While it is a given all fire fighters make sacrifices, volunteers services seem to one of the noblest ways to give back to the community, yet residents of Seymour paid little attention to a free forum put on by the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department Aug. 13.

With only 12 people in the Seymour High School auditorium for the event and many of the attendees associated with SVFD, community support for the department dwindled from the previous April forum.

“The event is a little lightly attended,” SVFD Fire Chief Kevin Nunn began at forum. “The idea behind tonight is for community members to have an opportunity to interact with the fire department in a non-emergency situation.”

The forum then turned to a history of SVFD.

The department began in 1971 and prior to its existence there was no fire coverage in the area.

SVFD started as non-profit and only responded to fires and didn’t provide any other rescue services currently available to resident free of charge.

Nunn said on average the department responded to about 50 calls a week when it first started and that statistic has changed.

Mayford McCarter and his wife, Louise, watch the forum attentively. (The Herald/ Joe King)

“As Chapman grew and traffic became more congested, the need for a rescue service grew,” Nunn said. “In the last ten years this community has increased its population by 25 percent.”

Nunn said after also adding emergency rescue service, to the mix SVFD has now grown to cover nearly 2,000 calls per year, which equates to an average of one call every six to eight hours in the 96 square miles and three counties within its boundaries.

“We just want to know the community is still behind us,” he said.

In addition to the time and energy sacrifices SVFD makes daily, Nunn said, as with all organizations, the bottom line comes down to money.

Nunn said just for general operations, it requires about $1,000 for SVFD to maintain its current levels; however, that number doesn’t include repairs and potential new equipment that needs to be updated periodically.

“The newest engine we have is from 1996,” Nunn said. “It costs about $900,000 for a new engine with a ladder and pump. If we raise $12,000 for our boot fundraiser, we would have to do that everyday for three months straight just for one engine.”

And while SVFD does receive some money from the County governments for their area, the total only comes to about $137,250. The break down shows Sevier County gives $126,000, Knox gives $7,500, and $3,750 comes from Blount.

“When it comes down to the level of support, money is where our limitations come in,” Nunn said. “What happens when nobody answers the call?”

Of the people in attendance Mayford McCarter, 86, said he was glad the SVFD put on the forum.

“I was here before the fire department started and Seymour is much better with them here,” McCarter said. “It makes a big difference.”

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