Do the math.

If you live within the 60 square miles covered by the Lexington Rural Fire Association east of Lexington and you aren’t a LRFA member, you might be playing with financial fire.

Rest assured. The all-volunteer Lexington Fire Department will respond to your emergency and do what they are trained to do – putting out the fire and protecting lives and property.

Fire chief Travis Ary will then send you a bill for their services. And it isn’t cheap.

That bill breaks down like this: $250 to show up with the first truck. Then $50 an hour for each additional vehicle dispatched to the scene.

“I have sent out $2,500 bills before,” Ary said. “The sky’s the limit.”

Or for an annual $50 membership fee, the cost to the property owner drops to $0.

Stella Bledsoe, secretary for the LRFA board, said the annual membership covers all properties the members own, lease or rent – even when those properties are spread across multiple locations.

“My husband and I have properties in multiple locations,” Bledsoe said. “All are covered.”

Among the larger properties in the LRFA area are the Lexington Assessment & Reception Center, Joseph Harp Correctional Center, Lexington Wildlife Management Area and the Oklahoma National Guard heliport.

In addition to providing no-cost fire fighting, LRFA also gives members the option of registering their storm shelters.

“All of us have heard of people being stuck in their cellars after tornadoes,” Bledsoe said. “Since many members have no close neighbors to check on them, this registration is a nice peace-of-mind benefit.”

The association uses the dues to supplement the Lexington Fire Department’s needs.

In the past, LRFA has helped with the purchase of a brush truck and most recently paid for a used $500,000 pumper truck that the department got for $35,000.

Dues also purchased the two acres which houses the 6,000 square foot Station 2. That station is exactly five miles east of the main station in town. The volunteer firefighters provided all of the labor in erecting and finishing the station, which was also paid for by LRFA.

With a volunteer force, that required firefighters to work around their regular jobs. Ary is a Cleveland County deputy sheriff.

That location was selected for insurance purposes, Ary said, and created an “insurance bubble” for homeowners who live east of Lexington.

Before the new station became operational in 2013, the area’s fire insurance rating was in the 9 to 10 range, Ary said. Now it is 4 in town and 7 outside the city limits.

Present membership in the LRFA is about 220.

“A lot of others could join,” Bledsoe said.

Surprisingly there are still some residents who don’t know about the LRFA. But joining is a simple matter.

Interested residents can join by calling Bledsoe at 405-527-5978 or LRFA board president/treasurer Dale Haynes at 405-823-9051. Also on the board are Ary, Larry Ferguson and Fran Ray. There is one vacancy currently on the board, which Ray said will be filled soon.

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