Parsons VFD asks for funding

Kevin White, assistant chief of the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department, updated Parsons City Council Tuesday about some of the issues facing the department, and requested funding help.

“I don’t want to send the wrong signal tonight,” White said. “We can pay our bills. We are not closing the doors; we are not in a situation such as that.”

White said the biggest challenge the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department faces is that revenues are not what they used to be.

“We are going to be here because we are the Parsons Volunteer Fire Department,” White said. “We are not here begging all the time and we appreciate all you do. I just do not know how we are going to replace our trucks when it is needed. And we have to do more than $12,000 in equipment testing every year whether we like it or not.”

White asked council’s help in setting up a new truck fund by budgeting $10,000 per year for that fund to help replace equipment.

“We can sit here all day long and blame this person or that person, or blame that administration or that administration, ” White said. “We still try to raise funds and we greatly appreciate the help from the city with the carnival. The street fair does bring in important funds.”

White said the lady’s auxiliary sponsors poker runs, pig roasts, chicken dinners, cake walks and bingo to help raise revenues.

“But at the end of the day, the big challenge we are facing is the fact that equipment costs have just skyrocketed,” White said. “To keep up with the state standards with equipment, we are having difficulty. A brand new truck, which is needed with the new Tucker County Courthouse, will cost approximately $300,000.”

The Parsons Volunteer Fire Department has an aging fleet with a rescue truck that goes on every call. White said that truck is from the 1990s, and they are looking to replace two older trucks with a new one.

White said the department recently replaced bunker gear for all its members.

“The gear, including a coat, helmet, pants, boots and gloves cost $3,500 per fire fighter,” White said. “We have self-contained breathing apparatus, of which we are 100 percent compliant passed. We had to beg, borrow and work hard to put ourselves in that position. No one person did that – 32 guys did that along with 14 women who volunteer.”

White said the Parsons department was one of few in the state to pass with 10- percent compliance, adding that their certificate is good for five years.

“Basically the payment to our ladies and our volunteers is self gratification for helping,” White said. “We are glad to be a part of the city and help out.”

White said it is coming to the point where he is not sure how much longer people can put in the hours to raise funds.

“It has come to the point in the last several years that it takes about 250 hours for a volunteer fire fighter to be certified to go into a fire,” White said. “After that, throughout the years, it requires many more hours of classes. There is so much financial burden on us. To replace 18 self contained breathing apparatus units will cost $150,000. We are mandated to have that many. So you can see the costs are catching up to us.”

Another factor is workers compensation.

“At the moment, the state of West Virginia has picked up the majority of that cost,” White said. “Right now we are paying about $9,000 out of our pocket and the state is reimbursing us for the rest of the $25,000. We must carry workers compensation insurance in order to remain open.”

Mayor Dorothy Judy asked White if he would give council members time to meet with the finance committee to see what they could do.

“We don’t get money until the first of the year for this,” Judy said. “By then, maybe we can come up with something.”

In other business, Parsons City Council members voted to schedule the Christmas parade for 6 p.m. Dec. 14. The theme selected for the event is “Home For the Holidays.”

The next regular meeting of the Parsons City Council is slated for 6 p.m. Nov. 5 in council chambers.