Benton County: fire safety comes at a cost

BENTON COUNTY - Your safety comes at a cost. It's no surprise the hot weather and dry conditions have resulted in more fires in Benton County this season.

KEPR pulled the numbers, and learned costs are going up by almost 15 percent.

It's the smoky result of this summer's heat wave. Flames terrorizing pockets of Benton County. Now, tearing through its pocketbooks as well.

"Just coming here from work, lots of fires and the sirens, but I really haven't heard much else," said Benton County resident Shasta Grimes.

Shasta Grimes lives in Finley. She recalls fires not far from where she lives. Shasta's grateful it wasn't any worse.

"I don't want to see one of my friends burned down. I don't want my own house to burn down," said Grimes.

And that safety comes with a price-tag. We pulled the numbers. Benton County Fire District One is pacing costs of about 55,000 thousand dollars more than what was spent last year. But won't go over budget. It's pacing to total nearly half a million dollars.

But officials say it's too early to tell actual impact on the budget. After all, we're still in the middle of fire season.

"We could never predict our fires, we could never predict when someone's going to have a heart attack or fall of their house or anything else," said Benton County Fire District #1 Devin Helland.

Final numbers will be evaluated in December. Benton County Captain Devin Helland says a busy season mostly puts a push on fuel for the equipment.

"That's usually where our budget gets blown if it's going to get blown," said Cpt. Helland.

West Richland tells us the number of times it's been called is down -- but the agency has offered help to other districts.

Richland Fire says they're pacing to rack up a budget of over $400,000. Saying they plan to hold meetings to discuss managing overtime costs.

"We obviously have to make it work and make it budget," added Cpt. Helland.

It's the careful balance of watching your taxpayer dollars. All the while, keeping you safe.

Across the board, firefighters emphasize, it's all about teamwork. Without the partnership of neighboring agencies those fires we had in June would've done a whole lot more damage.