(04/11/2011)
The West Virginia State Fire Marshal says volunteer fire departments across the state are facing recruitment, retention, and funding challenges.

State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis says it's extremely expensive to run these departments with fire trucks that used to cost $100,000 now costing over $400,000.

Lewis says he believes more needs to be done at the state or federal level to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters.

"These people can't continue to spend their time and their own money to do what they're doing. Somebody at either the federal level or at the state level is going to have to start reimbursing these firefighters for the money it's costing them to be a volunteer fireman," Lewis said.

Currently he says the WV fire premium tax provides $40,000-$45,000 to the 417 volunteer fire departments in West Virginia.

The departments did get some temporary relief from Charleston with their worker's compensation payments.

In Calhoun, many of the current volunteers work jobs that make them unavailable, particularly during daytime hours.

Calhoun 911/OES Director Kathy Wood has adopted a policy to page out multiple departments during daytime hours, to insure a response.


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