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Davis Lake Fire District officials say legislation could slow response time

Mar 4, 2020



SPRINGVILLE – Former Chairman of the Board for the Davis Lake Fire District Larry Shores said legislation proposed by Sen. Jim McClendon (R-Springville) could slow emergency response time in life or death situations in the fire district. 

According to the Alabama Legislature website, the proposed legislation was filed by McClendon on Feb. 18, read for the first time and referred to the Senate Committee on Local Legislation. 

Shores said the bill would cut fire dues in half, from $150 to $75, and remove enforcement ability by the Davis Lake Fire District Board to collect unpaid fees. 


“We can’t operate on that,” Shores said. “He is going to put us out of business.”

McClendon said he had received complaints about the fire department and about the fire dues. He said the dues are much higher than other volunteer fire departments. 

“The annual fee to be paid by an owner of a structure (is) not to exceed $75 for a residence or commercial building,” proposed Senate Bill 193 states. 

But Jim Garrett, public information officer for Davis Lake Paid/Volunteer Fire District, said the senator is comparing apples to oranges. 

The comparison McClendon has offered is with fire departments that do not have paid certified EMT, paramedics and firefighters, offering 24-hour, seven-day-a-week emergency and fire services.

Garrett said the fire district fee, which went into effect in 2018, raises enough money to staff the fire department 24/7 for emergency fire and medical coverage. 

Garrett gave an example of how response time has been reduced: If he was a volunteer firefighter and his neighbor had a heart attack, he would first have to drive to the fire station to get the emergency truck and equipment before driving back to his neighbor’s home and administering emergency medical action. 

But, because the current fee is in place, paid personnel at the fire department can respond immediately with the proper equipment when someone in the fire district calls 911. 

Davis Lake Fire Department officials said the improved emergency services were possible because residents in the Davis Lake Fire District overwhelmingly voted for the annual $150 fee, which is $12.50 per month.

McClendon suggested that many voters were unaware of the $150 fire dues before the 2018 elections. 

The establishment of the fire district fee was placed on the 2018 ballot, and Davis Lake officials said it was McClendon who was instrumental in getting it on the ballot for a vote. 

“Everyone knew about this,” Shores said. “We went door-to-door trying to get support.  Sure, there were a few people who had a problem with it, but that’s like anything else. The vast majority of the people supported this fee and what it would do.”

Davis Lake officials said 72 percent of the voters voted in favor of the new fire dues.

Shores said the matter was properly advertised and the wording on the ballot was explicit.

“Do you favor the establishment of the Davis Lake Volunteer Fire Department as a fire district under Act 2017-265 of the 2017 Regular Session of the Alabama Legislature and the levy of a fire protection fee in the amount of $150 per year on each residence or commercial building in the district to be collected commencing Oct. 1, 2018, which shall be used only for fire protection services? YES OR NO,” the ballot question read.

Davis Lake Fire District Board member Donald Toole said because someone is at the fire department 24/7, response times for emergency calls have been cut by more than half. He said in life-or-death situations, that reduction in time is crucial to someone’s survival or to saving someone’s home from fire. 

Shores said because of the change from a volunteer fire department to a fire district with paid professional emergency workers, first responders can now administer or dispense lifesaving drugs on the scene of medical calls.  

Without the continued flow of funds approved by the voters in 2018, that service would not be possible, Shores said, adding that the fire department may be able to keep up its current emergency services for another year, but proper funding would run out in about one year if McClendon’s bill is approved. 

Shores said with a stroke of a pen, McClendon is trying to do away with a vital service that the residents of Davis Lake Fire District voted for overwhelmingly.

The Davis Lake Fire Department has started a petition asking Gov. Kay Ivey to veto the bill if the legislation moves forward.  

Garrett said residents are asked to come by the fire department and sign the petition. 

NBC News 13 Video

From NBC Channel 13

Davis Lake FD in St. Clair County concerned over Alabama bill that would cut fire dues

Watch the video here

The Davis Lake Fire District operated as a volunteer fire department until 2018, when the district formed after a vote by the people. The district starting collecting $150 in fire dues with that change. A bill filed in the Alabama Legislature would cut dues down to $75. 



Letter from Chairman Gilmore

Davis Lake Fire District, Inc.
Providing the District with quality Fire and Rescue Services!

                                                                                               17 February 2020

To Whom It May Concern                                                          

Led by our new Chief Jimmy Briggs (our firefighters and the Board of Directors) “we,” improved the ISO rating from a five (5/5x) to a three (3/3x) in 2018. With this rating, you should have seen a reduction in your home insurance premium.

This is an excellent rating for ourfire “District.”Collecting Fire Dues at $150 per residence/business, enabled us to start hiring Alabama Fire CollegeFirefighters,” as well  as trained Paramedicsand Emergency Medical Technicians to provide immediate 911 responseon a 24/7 basis.

This up-grade in services, with immediate medical capabilities and integration into the health-care system, was effected February 26, 2019. 

This was possible because we had started receiving Davis Lake Fire District dues for Fiscal Year 2018 (FY’18). [FY’18 ran from Oct. 01, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018]

Most of us live in the county because we want to be out of any city and their added regulations. This, for many of us, is the way of life we prefer. We enjoy: improving and adding amenities to our residences, or even burning trash without paying for a permit to secure the “permission/right”to do these things.

As a District, we are now under political legislation action pending. As you may have noted in our recent newsletter; there are two pending actions: 1] repeal (nullify) the voter’s choice of the 5 June 2018 Election that establishing DLFD 2017-256, or, 2] modify an extremely limit DLFD in Collecting Fire Dues to $75/yr.

Fire Dues Fee of $150 enabled DLVF District establish a 24/7 hired professional staff that is qualified to provide immediate Advanced Life Support (level 2) referred to as an ALS-II. This action of staffing 24/7 is only possible because EMTs and Para-Medics; with a need to pay their living expenses, need to have payroll monies in place to pay them for their work. Currently, we are paying only $8.33 per hour; minimal pay to risk life and limb to be a Firefighter as well as a trained EMT or Para-Medic.

As you may well understand, this progression of improving services has been and continues to be; our focus to serve you; our clients, our customers. Providing you quality fire and rescue services here in St Clair County.

Our records can be found @

We need your help to save DLF District! Please come by the Station on Marietta [across from the Armory] and sign a petition for the Governor.

Thank you.


Donald W. Gilmore, MAJ USA (Ret.)
New Chairman, DLVF District, Inc.
MS Nur. Adm., UAB


Legislative Letter - Requesting to stop the repeal of ACT 2017-265

January 14, 2020

Dear Senator McClendon, Senator Shelnutt, Representative Wood, Representative Llipscomb, and Representative Hill:

I am appealing to you to stop the repeal of ACT 2017-265 providing for the establishment of the Davis Lake Volunteer Fire Department as a fire district authorizing the levy of a fire protection service fee of $150 per year. Two bills have been published in the St. Clair News-Aegis by an unknown source, one on December 19, 2019, and the other on December 26, 2019.

In 2016, the Davis Lake Volunteer Fire Department (DLVFD) began working hard to inform its fire coverage area that they wanted to become a fire district by door-to-door membership drives, newsletters, two open houses and articles published in the St. Clair Times. They were even interviewed by several local news stations encouraging the people to vote Yes in an election to pass a bill proposed by Senator Jim McClendon and Representative Jim Hill. Senator McClendon was featured in one of these interviews promoting his bill to make them a fire district.

In 2017, Senator McClendon and Representative Hill wrote and presented a bill before the legislature to allow the people to vote to make the DLVFD a fire district enabling them to levy a mandatory fire fee of $150. Until the passage of this bill, we asked for donations of $150 per year to help run the fire department.  Only about 30% paid the donations. They were only able to pay the chief about $1,000 a month. The firefighters were all volunteers, brave men and women who put their lives on the line for free!

On June 5, 2018, 72% of the people voted YES to allow them to become a fire district and to collect a mandatory fire fee of $150 per year through the St. Clair County Revenue Commissioner’s Office.

Since the bill’s passage, they can pay firefighters certified by the Alabama Fire College, EMTs, and Paramedics to man the fire station 24/7 to provide service to its area. Response time to calls has been drastically reduced.

Now someone, for some unknown reason, wants to undo all this progress! It will not even be presented back to the people for a vote to see if they want to do this! This will nullify the previous vote of the people! All this progress will be wiped out by the stroke of a pen! I am appealing to you to stop the repeal of the bill voted on overwhelmingly by the people! We elect senators and representatives to listen to the voice of the people who elected them, not to override their wishes and think that they can make better decisions for them! Please listen to us and do not repeal this bill voted on by the people! 

A list of AL Senators can be found here