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Fire chief: Paid city firefighters should live close

October 11, 2012
By Melissa Toothman - Staff Writer ( , The Inter-Mountain

Buckhannon's fire chief believes a residency requirement should be added to employees of the fire department, saying the town's firefighters should not live too far away.

"I think we need to look at some type of residency requirement for our paid firefighters," Tacy said. "Most cities do that, and it's normally not an air-mile type thing. You can confine somebody to live in the county."

City Attorney David McCauley said he would want to look closely at two cases out of Wheeling and thinks the requirement there is that employees have to reside in Ohio County.

"They did it one way, and a lawsuit was filed and challenged successfully," McCauley said. "They did it another way and a second lawsuit was filed, and it withstood the judgment of the court."

McCauley said the requirement could also be measured by an epicenter distance from the city, and Tacy added that he thinks Fairmont's requirement might be 10 air-miles from its courthouse.

"That's something that we need to look at. We rely heavily on our paid firefighters, particularly on their days off," Tacy said. "They come in and answer a lot of calls on their time off. That's something we'll be looking at."

Tacy said he thinks the residency requirement could be extended to other emergency responders who work for the city. McCauley said including all emergency situations could include water and sewage emergencies.

In other matters, Tacy said some members of the Buckhannon Fire Department can be spotted wearing pink this month, sporting the color to show their support and raise awareness for breast cancer.

Tacy told the Buckhannon City Council last week of the firefighters' plans, prompting Councilman Scott Preston to comment that "real men can wear pink."

"We've had a lot of comments," Tacy said. "The majority of career firefighters in West Virginia are wearing pink T-shirts while they're on duty in support of breast cancer and cancer awareness."

Tacy added that for Buckhannon Fire Department, it's about more than just raising awareness and showing support; it gets personal.

"We're doing that, and it hits home," he said. "We have one of our career firefighters whose mother has been going through a very, very lengthy battle with cancer, so we're doing this for him and for a cause."



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