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Village of Big Bend deciding whether to eliminate volunteer fire department

BIG BEND, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The future of a Waukesha County volunteer fire department is now up in the air.

The Village of Big Bend is now looking into what options are available for their volunteer department.

One of those options is getting rid of it.

The Big Bend Volunteer Fire Department says they are very upset at the possibility of being eliminated, and that it would be a huge loss for the community.

“Everybody here has their heart into serving,” Chief John Ludwig, said.

The Big Bend Fire Department is made up of 40 volunteers. The Village's Finance Committee is looking into possibly eliminating Big Bend’s department, and instead contracting with the Town of Vernon Fire Department, which is a full-time department. The committee declined an interview Tuesday, saying it is too early in the process, but say they are looking into several different cost-saving options.

“You won’t have the sense of community that has been there for years with the Big Bend Fire Department where were there for our neighbors,” James Soneberg, Village Board President, and Assistant Fire Chief said. “You’re basically going to be getting people that don’t even live in the area.”

Big Bend Fire says they provide mutual aid to other communities, and in the last eight years, they've raised more than $100-thousand dollars for Big Bend.

“Being able to give back to the community, that's going to be gone,” Soneberg said.

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow says small communities with their own fire department is becoming a thing of the past. Wednesday, the county is releasing the results of a study that looks at volunteer departments, including Big Bend.

“Looking at more of the regional approach, looking at working together and collaborative opportunities are going to be key to make sure that we have that level of service,” Paul Farrow, Waukesha County Executive, said.

Big Bend says they are open to working with other departments.

“It can be a better way to go, there's no doubt about that,” Soneberg said. “But don't get rid of the resources you have. Use them.”

Since 2010, Big Bend has operated as its own department. Before that, Big Bend and the Town of Vernon operated together.

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