MABSCOTT - Funding volunteer fire departments is
one issue, but manning them is critical.
“They make sure that they have
adequate manpower,” Beckley Fire Department Chief Billie Trump said. “And this
is for safety because fighting fire, especially in this day and age, is
extraordinarily dangerous. And the more people you have on hand, the more
successful you can be, and the safer you can be.”
Kevin Price, who heads the Raleigh
County levy, said fighting fires can get you tired quickly.
“You wear out pretty quick, and when
you wear out like that, that's when accidents happen,” he told Newswatch. “When
you push yourself harder and harder, and you're liable to hurt yourself or the
person next to you.”
The changing times and increased
demands are making it more difficult to staff volunteer departments. People are
no longer working where they live. Cities are growing, and closing the doors of
these departments stretches thin resources even thinner.
“When one department closes their
doors, the burden is then spread to other departments who already have their
hands full and suddenly, you're going as hard as you can to cover your
territory, now you've been given additional territory and responsibility to
cover,” Trump said.
Kevin Price said he has a plan to
create four new departments in Raleigh County where paid and volunteer
firefighters would work together.
“It's going to take a while,” Price
said. “It's going to take a long while. It took them forty, fifty years to get
in this shape. One turn of the levy is not going to get them all well and
better to where we can vote it out again.”
Others are crossing their fingers that
residents will see a change in their home insurance rates.
“I don't think they realize the
effects of the cost of the insurance until they get that actual quote, you know,
they get the premium and that's the sticker shock,” said Shelia Bailey, who
works for Songer Insurance Agency, Inc. in Beckley.
Trump hopes safer departments will be
reflected in insurance rates.
“In two or three years, hopefully when the rating
organization comes in, they'll look at the departments and say, ‘You guys have
improved significantly, people are safer, we're dropping the insurance rates,’”