|Nine of the 10 area volunteer fire departments in Wood County, plus Elizabeth's Volunteer Fire Department, have adopted a new policy regardding callouts.|
For many years ago the volunteer fire departments were initial responders for any and all non-emergency road obstructions.
So far, Calhoun's three VFD's are trying to respond to all call-outs.
Because of issues with Workers' Compensation, insurance premiums and rising fuel costs, and volunteerism problems, the departments will not respond to some of the situations.
Many other counties in the state have already ceased this practice because of the same reasons in addition to the extra life endangerment put forth by personnel responding to and operating at these incidents," according to the policy change signed by the fire chiefs.
Roadway obstructions that "do not show an immediate threat of life," according to the policy change, "shall be first dispatched to the designated state organizations' duty officer from the Department of Highways.
The DOH shall be dispatched to take care of all road obstructions, which do not cause an immediate threat to life or property.
"If there's water across a roadway, a mudslide, the departments will no longer be responding, the other entities responsible will be handling that, that's their job. If the call involves life or property that is still a call we will respond to, anything involving an emergency situation involving threat to life and property," says the policy.
"Public service, non-emergency calls, we will no longer respond to, and we are asking the public's indulgence and understanding as we implement this policy change."
"Another instance would be power lines down, there's not much we can do until the power company cuts the power. In those cases we are secondary. They are public service calls, where the public might expect the fire department to stay there until some other entity shows up to actually intervene, it's more of a convenience rather than a necessity, or emergency."
"We understand this will be a somewhat lengthy process to educate the public. When they call, in those non-emergency cases the fire department will no longer be showing up. We understand it will probably be several months to get everyone acclimated," says the policy.