Wednesday, July 22, 2015

How fire departments can get more money

We need more money!

I think that's a sentiment that all fire departments have.  They know there is equipment to be replaced or new technology that can be used to strengthen their department.

So, why don't fire departments get more money?

I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings but I rarely see fire departments use a budget properly.  Even those that use budgets don't recognize the power of having a budget.

A budget should be a numerical example of your department's vision.  That means you put a number on whatever your department needs (really needs, not just wants - we'll get to that next week).

That means, you understand what it costs to operate your department, maintain your capital (things that last more than 1 year) purchases, and plan for some unexpected events.  That means if you need a truck, you budget an amount you need to save each year to buy the truck when you need it.

How you use a budget to get more money

By having a plan that people can see and you can explain, you will increase the funding you get.  Your appeals for more money aren't just unsubstantiated talk.  You use a budget to show what you need to realize your departmental vision.

Stay safe!
John R. Hill
First Bankers

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

How fire departments stay financially smart

You ever wonder why some fire departments have so much... and others so little?

This is the first of a 3 part series on the importance of having a fire department budget.  The reason I talk about this is a budget is the one thing that always seems to separate the haves from the have-nots.

Why having a budget is so important

Last week, I wrote about a fire department who literally fund-raised themselves into being broke.  They spent more on the fundraising costs than what they earned.  If they would have just eliminated the fundraiser, they would have had more money for equipment.

How can that be?   Simply, the fire department did not use a budget.

A budget is like a dashboard.  It gives you clear information about what is happening. So, you can adjust as the situation changes or to problems as you recognize them earlier.

Instead of your board meeting financial report sounding something like:  We paid the bills and here's how much we have in the account , you have reports like:  We are on track to have the best year ever.  Or, we are short on saving up for the next truck. Or, we actually spend more on fundraising costs than what we earn.


A budget is a great tool to understand and predict your situation.  You'll always know if you are "on-track" or "off-track" and can adjust as needed.

Stay safe!
John R. Hill
First Bankers

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Fire Department Funding and Budgeting

Regular readers of this column know that I advocate using a budget for their fire departments. 

I was reminded of the strong benefit of having a budget again from a customer last week.

The Department literally ran out of money because the cost of its fundraisers was more than they received in income.  It's like spending $1.20 to get a $1.00.  The department did not know this because they did not use a budget to understand their financial situation. 

They just thought:  Hey, we made $40,000 from our fundraiser!
What they missed is that they spent about $45,000 to raise that money.  So, they could eliminate the fundraiser and actually be $5,000 ahead!

Here's why budgets are so important to a fire department's funding

  1. You are able to make adjustments as needed.
  2. You will raise more money.
  3. You will be seen as more professional and trust-worthy. 


Budgeting is a highly effective tool to manage your fire department.  Over the next 3 weeks, we'll discuss in more detail the 3 major benefits your department will receive by budgeting.

Stay safe!
John R. Hill
First Bankers

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

What's my motive?

I get calls from people who are suspicious about why I share the information I do on this website.   They tell me they can't find this information anywhere else and it is helpful but...

They wonder why I would tell fire departments how to save lots of money, avoid mistakes, and learn a lot more about fire truck financing.

Here's why I do this:

I have led a blessed life.  I have a job I love helping people who (for the most part) are kind, generous, helpful, and caring.  After all, they run into burning buildings for people they don't know.

So, I want to share what I know to help those people do what they do. 

I know that if they pay less interest, they have more money for gear or tools that will save them or someone else. 

I know that most people who call me have never done what they are doing (financing a big purchase) before.  I don't want them to be taken advantage of.  I want them to be informed buyers of fire truck financing.  I want them to know they are making the best decision for themselves.

That's why I do this.  Have a great and safe 4th of July.

Stay safe!
John R. Hill
First Bankers