Help is on the way for one of Marshall County's 15 volunteer fire departments, as $116,375 worth of federal money is on the way to McMechen via the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.
Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., helped secure the funding, which totals $292,808 that will be distributed among four VFDs from around West Virginia.
"Our dedicated firefighters and first responders are on the front lines of keeping our communities safe, and it is important that are fully prepared and supplied with the necessary training and equipment," Manchin said.
Photo by Casey Junkins
Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., secured an Assistance to Firefighters Grant in the amount of $116,375 for the McMechen Volunteer Fire Department.
"With these grants, our volunteer fire departments will be provided with the tools they need to protect West Virginians."
Firefighters at the station in McMechen referred all questions about the grant to Chief Mark Martin, who could not immediately be reached for comment. However, Manchin and Rockefeller said the money can be used for equipment, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training and other necessary measures.
In addition to McMechen, the Burlington VFD in Mineral County received $89,775; the Teays Valley VFD in Putnam County got $48,848; and the Ridgeley VFD in Mineral County got $37,810.
"West Virginia's volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line every day to protect our families, homes and businesses. In return for their incredible and selfless commitment, we have to make sure they have the essential equipment, gear and skills that will help keep them safe on the job," Rockefeller said. "This grant funding is critical to making sure our firefighters are trained and properly protected when they're responding bravely to an emergency situation in one of our communities."
Due to increased equipment costs, higher insurance premiums and increased training requirements, as well as a declining and aging population, Marshall County Administrator Betsy Frohnapfel said some of the county's 15 remaining volunteer departments are struggling to stay open.
The former Fish Creek VFD ceased operations in 2011 due to a lack of members, while the former Big Wheeling Creek VFD closed that same year after failing to pay for its worker's compensation insurance.