That was the verdict the head of Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.’s financial committee recently shared with company President Phil Ridenour.
To the southwest, Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Company is facing the same dilemma.
Only it’s more immediate.
After years of nursing a near-antique fleet, Clear Spring began payments on a new firetruck in 2005 and now should be replacing a fire engine, “but funding is not there,” Chief Mike Reid said.
There was a time when local fire companies probably wouldn’t have talked openly about savings, expenses and financial problems, Reid and Ridenour said.
But the resistance is fading, replaced by a desire to prove need and show accountability, they said.
Talking frankly about finances lays bare the severity of problems in the county’s fire service, Reid said.
“The deeper you get, quite honestly, the bleaker the outlook is,” Reid said.
The biggest problem for all the companies — whether it’s Clear Spring that runs just under 500 calls a year, or the ones that run well over 1,000 a year — is that “there is no major source of revenue.”
And, traditional revenue sources like carnivals and gaming are drying up, he said.
“I’ve been in the fire service in this county for 33 years. I believe the five county commissioners just elected last year are going to see the collapse of the volunteer fire system in this county,” Reid said.
“I believe it is going to fall in their laps. I believe the collapse of Clear Spring is going to fall in their laps,” he said.
“This is not just a financial struggle, it’s everything. It’s top to bottom a struggle.”