Rising Gas Prices Impact First Responders, Schools Across the State

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The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –

The high cost of gas proves to be a problem across Tennessee as pumps continue to show record rising prices.

AAA reports that the national gas price average comes in at $5.01 per gallon. While they show the state’s average to be slightly lower at $4.64 per gallon, residents are still feeling the difference.

A gallon of gas in Tennessee is just over 50 cents more per gallon than it was a month ago, and it is $1.64 more per gallon than one year ago.

Individuals are not the only ones feeling the strain of the increased prices. First responders, schools, and other community groups are trying to maintain services while still surviving within their allotted budgets.

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In an interview with News 2, Columbia Fire and Rescue officials said their fuel costs for the year are currently at $53,000. This is $22,000 more than this time last year. 

Volunteer fire departments are dealing with this problem as well. For most of these groups, staff members are not paid and often have to use their own private vehicles and provide their own fuel to respond to emergencies.

According to Brandon Head, Fire Chief for the Millersville Fire Department, all 18 of his firefighters are volunteers and must use their own resources to respond to calls.

Head says that the number of volunteers who are responding to emergencies has decreased over the past few months, and he believes the rising fuel costs may be the reason.

“It’s affecting our guys more because they have to pay out of pocket for fuel. Calls for service come in at night, after hours, they come from their home, so they are having to put fuel in their tank to go to someone who is in need,” Chief Head stated.

Chief John Linsenbigler with the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department in East Tennessee reports similarly.

He noted that their gas costs have pretty much doubled for this year so far, making responding more difficult because all of their resources come from the community.

School systems across the state are also feeling the sting of the rising fuel costs. Some systems have already made the decision to cut bus routes in the fall to help curb some of the additional expense. Many of them have also cut back on summer travel for professional development, opting for online training instead.

Currently, Metro Nashville Public Schools plans to simply find money in the budget to cover the additional fuel costs, but systems such as Dickson County School District say they are watching the situation carefully and preparing to make changes as necessary.

They released a statement saying, “We are monitoring fuel and bus routes carefully. Budgeting for fuel for the upcoming year is becoming more challenging due to the increases we are facing. If fuel prices remain high as we enter the fall, we will be required to deeply examine our transportation practices, especially for extracurricular activities.”

AAA Spokesperson Megan Cooper says that, while prices are at a record high, Tennessee is currently one of the lowest in the country.

“One silver lining for Tennesseans is that despite the recent spike in prices, Tennessee is currently the 9th least expensive market in the country,” said Cooper.

About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative  ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career.  Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others.  He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History.  Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com

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