Firefighters Association urges public to attend March 30 meeting to learn about manpower issues

BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Fire Departments are asking community members to attend Wednesday’s meeting of the Upshur County Firefighters Association.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 at the City of Buckhannon’s Public Safety Complex on South Florida Street.

Upshur County Firefighters Association president John Roby, also the director of Banks District Emergency Medical Services, said they want to keep the public informed about the state of county volunteer fire departments.

“The fire departments pulled a survey from the [state] fire marshal’s office, asking them to tell us exactly how many departments in the county responded with two people or less and it was above 80 percent of the time – all departments except for Buckhannon because they’re paid,” Roby said.

He said attending the meeting does not mean anyone has to speak up, but they should know what’s going on in their community.

“They don’t necessarily have to talk, but they should be aware of what’s going on,” Roby said Monday. “It’s easy to sit back and not realize how many people are responding to an emergency. We want them to know what’s going on and we want the community to be involved and let them know we’re hurting for people.”

If any Upshur County resident does have any ideas, the association encourages them to speak up.

“We’ll take anything – we’ll take ideas, ideas will be great, any input would be great – but mainly, we want them to acknowledge what we do in this county and know how we’re hurting,” Roby said. “I don’t think it’s money for the fire departments – money’s always nice – but it’s really not a money thing for us, it’s a people thing.”

Roby said he and the other fire departments are not trying to single out the Upshur County Commission, but he thinks their presence would make the meeting more productive.

“I want to make it plain and clear; we’re not going after the county commission saying, ‘Hey, this is your responsibility.’ We’re not,” Roby said. “We’re just trying to gather information. This new bill came out and we’re going to talk about it with the community … and [the bill] says that here soon we’ll be able to bring [volunteer firefighters] with no training into this fire department and let you do firefighting things for up to five years without [any] training – that’s not an answer.”

Below is a letter written and signed by Upshur County fire chiefs:

Upshur County Firefighters Association invites all community stakeholders to attend the next meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 30 at the City of Buckhannon’s Public Safety Complex on South Florida Street.

The UCFA invites all Upshur County residents, any interested businesses, elected officials and all other stakeholders to attend. This includes the Upshur County Commission, Buckhannon City Council, Upshur County Board of Education, West Virginia Wesleyan College and St. Joseph’s Hospital.

The UCFA is currently collecting data to provide to our community to show the need for recruitment of volunteers to respond to emergencies and the possible future need of paid staff to provide services in certain areas and times. 

Please come and help us help our communities. The UCFA looks forward to seeing you at the March 30 meeting.


Upshur County fire chiefs

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