Preston County fire levy: new equipment will save lives

Published: May. 12, 2022 at 5:42 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - Election night saw voters in Preston County approve a levy to help fund fire departments.

5′s John Blashke spoke with a local department about how this will help save lives.

For about the cost of one large pizza a year, the citizens of Preston County help fund all 12 of their volunteer fire departments.

On Tuesday, 65% of voters agreed to a fire levy through 2027. It’s a 3% increase from when the levy was first voted on in 2018.

County Commission President Samantha Stone says this levy is a necessity.

“The services that they provide is something that you and I expect when we call for help or there’s an emergency -- that’s something that we kind of demand as a public, so allowing that to be on the ballot is a no brainer for the county commission,” Stone said.

Each of the 12 fire departments will be receiving $40,000 a year for equipment from the county.

Albright Fire Chief Owen Evans says the departments volunteer force relies heavily on fundraising and the cost of purchasing life saving equipment is more than they can handle on their own.

“Buying additional equipment is a big thing that we fall short of because we just meet our operating costs and we don’t seem to have the money left over to buy new equipment,” Evans said.

Because of the levy, Chief Evans department was able to purchase jaws of life, they now also have thermal imaging cameras to help find people in low visibility.

The equipment purchased from the levy also keeps the volunteers safe. This special washer and dryer cost $10,000 each. They help to maintain firefighters’ protective suits and remove any cancer-causing residues from burning buildings.

Chief Evans and Commissioner Stone believe this levy is worth every penny by keeping people safe.

“I really feel we would be in a really bad place with our volunteer fire departments struggling in order to operate... I just really have no words my gratitude to the departments in this county is a lot,” Stone said.

Reporting in Albright John Blashke 5 news.

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