(01/31/2012)
There could be light at the end of the tunnel for West Virginia's dwindling volunteer fire departments.

A unanimous House of Delegates passed a proposal Monday that would allow firefighters to pursue training in segments and they could seek some of their needed training and testing online.

The bill must overcome several hurdles.

Fire departments are experiencing a severe manpower shortage, among other problems, to maintain service.

Insurance companies have moved standards that volunteers have almost the same level of training as paid firemen.

House Government Organization Chairman Jim Morgan said firefighters could save on travel time and costs.

The measure also calls for minimum statewide standards in fire and rescue areas as training, equipment, communications and response time.

With 403 departments in the Mountain State, volunteer firefighters provide more than 90 percent of the fire protection in the state, with most homeowners dependent on keeping fire insurance costs down related to volunteer service.


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