As the economy continues to cool, Coaldale's fire protection tax is heating up.

"As it looks right now, we're going to be looking for an increase," Coaldale Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 Chief Richard Marek told borough council at a public meeting Tuesday. "We can't operate on what we're currently getting."

Marek asked that the Budget and Finance Committee sit down with the company's chief financial officer, Ron Polischak, to discuss the costs of the borough's fire protection needs before council begins crafting the 2011 budget.

Currently, the borough dedicates 1 mill, which generates about $20,000 annually, to the fire company.

But, Marek said, with more people out of work and cost of living rising, the fire company's fundraising efforts are falling short.

"Our fund drive has dropped off dramatically," he said. "As of December of last year, we had $1,200 left in our treasury. That doesn't leave a lot of money when your fund drive doesn't start until February and you've got light bills, you've got water bills, you've got sewer bills, you've got insurance bills, you've got maintenance on the trucks, you've got upkeep on the trucks, and I could go on and on and on."

Councilwoman Nancy Lorchak said budget workshops would start soon, and that she'd contact Polischak to schedule a time to meet.

The fire company has been protecting Coaldale's residents and neighboring communities since 1906, according to its website. The volunteers fight house fires and car fires, handle carbon monoxide incidents, help out at vehicle accidents, perform search and rescues, clean up hazardous materials incidents and more.

In a February interview with the TIMES NEWS, second assistant fire chief and financial secretary Louie Mitchalk said that in 2009, only 27 percent of the community donated a total of $16,000 to the fund drive.