Membership Program: Information You Should Know

What does membership mean for you?


The Karns Fire Department has adopted a Membership Program to fund the fire department activities. Karns receives NO TAX REVENUE to fund our operations. Those not joining the department will be billed for service at the rates listed here and may be re-rated by their insurance company. Members will enjoy all services for the cost of their membership.

Avoid these higher fees by becoming a member today

Non-Member Fees

Letter of Fees - Residential

Letter of Fees - Commercial

Frequently Asked Questions about the Karns Fire Department Membership Program

  1. 1. Why do we need to fund the department thru a membership program?
  2. 2. Karns Fire is not funded by tax dollars. We are supported through annual fees.
  3. 2. How much is membership coverage for my home or rental property?
  4. Membership fees are set at 11 cents per square foot of your home(s), per the Knox County Tax Assessor's Office. This includes unfinished basements, garages, and any out-buildings larger than 600 sq. feet. Those who do not join will face higher costs if they need the fire department for fires, car accidents, smoke alarms, legal or illegal burning, gas leaks, Emergency Medical Service (EMS), or any other types of incidents. Property Owners are responsible for the membership fee and thus all incident charges that accrue on the property/account, just as the property owner is liable for property taxes, maintenance, etc. for that property. We bill the Patient for EMS calls; including Public Assist and Medical Assist calls.
  5. 3. Will you respond to fire at a non-member's home?
  6. Yes, we will respond to all requests for assistance, regardless of membership. Our responders have no knowledge of whether you are a paid subscriber or not. Those who are not members will receive a much higher bill for services from our Membership Office. Response to a structure fire starts at $2000 for the first hour. Fires can and do result in bills of several thousands of dollars.
  7. 4. Is Karns still going to be a volunteer fire department?
  8. Karns became a Combination Fire Department when we hired the first paid personnel in 2001. We are now operating two manned stations 24 hours, 7 days per week, with 10 paid firefighters plus 3 Captains. Station One is located at 6616 Beaver Ridge Rd and Station Two is located at 2105 N. Campbell Station Rd. We still continue to rely on volunteers to supplement our staff.
  9. 5. If it's a volunteer department, why do we need to join the Membership Program?
  10. While the volunteers’ services are free, the department still must pay for fire trucks, equipment, stations costs, fuel costs, fire hose, and other costs associated with running the Fire Department. No one has ‘volunteered’ to give KVFD a new fire truck which costs in excess of $500,000, pay our fuel bills, or pay our insurance. The cost to train and equip just one firefighter with the necessary personal protective equipment is upwards of $14,000.
  11. 6. What is ISO and why is it important?
  12. ISO is the Insurance Services Office which evaluates the capabilities of fire departments. The ISO grading covers fire department apparatus and equipment, dispatching and communication, staffing and training, and its available water supply. Most insurance companies use the ISO grade as a factor in determining insurance premiums. Our current rating of class 4 provides a saving of 30-50% from the premium for a Class 10 (no fire station within 5 miles).
  13. 7. What if we are on a fixed low income?
  14. Those who truly cannot afford the fee may request a fee reduction or fee waiver. This reduction or waiver is based on the poverty scale of Knox County. Contact our Membership office at 865-691-1029 for additional information.
  15. 8. I received a bill for a service you provided because I called 911 for an emergency, why?
  16. If you decide to not join the Membership Program you will be charged higher fees for any 911 emergency that we respond to.
  17. 9. I asked for an ambulance not a fire truck. Why did you show up?
  18. We respond to every emergency. We are a registered Basic Life Support Agency through the State of Tennessee. Our firefighters are trained and certified as Medical Responders and most are licensed by the State of Tennessee as Emergency Medical Technicians. This may save your life.
  19. 10. What are the Karns Fire Department's Plans for the future?
  20. We are dedicated to providing the best possible fire protection and emergency service. Your continued support is needed for the Karns Fire Department to continue to provide the services but also to improve the services we provide.