Critical reading skills.
Didn't say the group on the whole was young; if you are young, they let you in. That doesn't mean they reject you if you are old or debilitated.
I don't see how paying for things through taxation is not an activity of the state. Fund drives are not the primary source of funds for the majority of VFD; taxes are.
Didn't say that VFD were a political group, I said they are powerful. They are connected to all parts of the local community, which includes members of the government and local businesses, which means that if they chose to they have a great deal of sway in the community.
"that"s the way we've always done it" mentality = strong willed know-it-alls
And it's a rule of thumb, which means it has applied to every fire department I've been associated with, but may not apply to the view you have of yours.