Just about everyone has experienced the rising prices of items they want or need. They deal with it by cutting out what isn't necessary, waiting for a sale or clipping coupons.
Our local fire departments too are seeing costs increase. They, however, can't compensate or adjust their budgets in the same way individuals can.
This week, members of the Randolph County Fire Association shared the worries they have about being able to pay workers' compensation fees and the bills for firefighters' training, gear and equipment. None of this is cheap, nor can it be deferred. Outfitting one volunteer runs between $3,000 and $4,000. Workers' compensation ranges between $8,000 and $20,000 annually, depending on the size of the department.
Fire departments receive funding from cities and counties, and the state Legislature enacted a reimbursement program for workers' compensation in 2011. Still there's a financial struggle, or as Elkins Fire Chief Tom Meader puts it, "a never-ending battle."
The Elkins Fire Department responds to about 700 calls a year. Harman Fire Chief Jerry Teter estimates his department logs 200 responses. Not all of these are fires or car accidents.
Fire departments are necessities in all of our communities. Yet some say closing their doors isn't out of the realm of possibilities if their cash flow doesn't improve. We encourage residents to participate in their fundraisers and we urge governmental leaders to continue their financial support.