In the past year, it hasn't been uncommon for area fire departments to see a lot of red ink in their financial reports. Increased equipment costs, workers' compensation fees and additional training mandates, among other things, have all been contributing factors.
In November, Barbour County voters turned down a proposal for a countywide fire fee. This week, Elkins City Council took steps toward its second attempt to increase the fee it already has in place by 50 percent.
The fiscal health of these fire companies and others throughout West Virginia may see some improvement later this year. State budget leaders on Thursday told a gathering of journalists in Charleston that a 5.5 percent increase in collections from the insurance premium tax will be distributed among the departments.
Specific dollar figures for individual fire departments aren't yet available, but it seems any increase will provide some relief. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will reveal his new budget plan Wednesday as the Legislature begins its regular session.
Fire departments in West Virginia aren't the only ones to face financial problems, and in fact some have seen drastic cuts in the funding they receive from their states. Luckily, that's not the case here. What's more is it will be interesting to see if additional legislation crops up this session to further come to the aid of our firefighters.