CHARLESTON, W.Va. –  1909:  Arizona and New Mexico were not yet states. William Howard Taft was president. The U.S. Army had just bought its first military airplane from the Wright brothers. And West Virginia decided it needed an office of marshals dedicated solely to investigating fires, arresting arsonists and preventing loss of lives and properties from fire. This was the start of the West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office. 

The Fire Marshal’s Office are celebrating this milestone 110 years later by hosting a reception and open house at their offices in Charleston.

The big day is Monday, July 15, the same day that a young Charles Ellison took the oath of office to become West Virginia’s first fire marshal. Marshal Ellison started with a staff of three assistant marshals to cover a rural, mountainous state. Most of the travel to investigate fires was made by train, horseback, and when lucky an automobile.

Today, the office has a staff of over 50 individuals who handle everything from inspecting public buildings and investigating fires to licensing fireworks sales and testing electricians for certification. But the overarching mission remains the same: to serve and protect the citizens of our state. 

Join them on their birthday as they look back and honor all those who have come before the, and celebrate as they continue to move forward. 

When:  Monday, July 15 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Where:  WVSFMO, 1207 Quarrier St., Charleston