Don’t Let Hard Feelings Flame

Animosity between Moundsville’s paid and volunteer fire departments remains a challenge, it was made clear Tuesday night. City Council members may play a role in deciding whether it persists.

Last week, Councilman David Wood suggested looking into whether the two departments could share quarters, perhaps in a building now used by the volunteer unit. Mayor Allen Hendershot worried that could aggravate longstanding tensions between members of the two firefighting groups.

This week, council voted to form a committee to consider Wood’s idea. The vote was 5-1, with Hendershot dissenting.

Discussion during the meeting made it obvious his concern was well-founded. Gary Brandon, acting chief of the paid fire department, asked, “Would this be going on if our chief was still here? Would you have brought this up before he passed?” He referred to the death in November of then-Chief Noel Clarke.

Getting to what may be the heart of the matter, volunteer fire unit representative Brad Varlas told council he wanted to address rumors his department wants to take over the paid firefighters’ duties. “That’s never been our stance,” he emphasized.

But if Moundsville residents can have better fire protection, perhaps at less cost, through more cooperation and sharing of facilities and equipment, council members should pursue that.

Councilwoman Ginger DeWitt put it nicely: “If it’s going to better the city, I’m all for it,” she said, adding, “The animosity doesn’t have to be there.”

Precisely. Everyone involved needs to have that opinion — and move forward in that spirit.

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