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Byline: Stephen G. Reed STAFF WRITER
Volunteer fire department: The words conjure up an image of shopkeepers and mechanics, farmers and teachers, all scrambling at the sound of a siren to fight a neighborhood fire.
It may seem old-fashioned, especially in an era of growth and big government. Sarasota County's only volunteer fire departments, Nokomis and South Venice, both face a crunch of modern financial and regulatory pressure.
But advocates of volunteer departments say they provide less expensive service, and lend a feeling of community to unincorporated areas. Their workers turn a meager budget into gold by retooling second-hand equipment, painting the station and even laying plumbing.
Tuesday, the Sarasota County Commission will discuss the fate of the South Venice department, which officials have suggested replacing with county fire service.