Volunteer firefighters and EMTs work for bill to secure rights

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MONONGALIA COUNTY, W. Va. (WDTV) - A local volunteer firefighter is joining forces with legislators to create a bill that will secure rights for all state volunteer fire and EMT workers.

"We risk our lives, and we should be compensated in some way,"

Crystal Morris is a volunteer fire fighter and EMT with Tunnelton volunteer fire department, and is one of several local volunteers leading the fight for a state bill that would secure herself and her co-workers with worker's rights.

"We want benefits like job protection, like tax right-offs, scholarships, student loan debt forgiveness, things that volunteers deserve,"

Morris says this isn't the first time a bill like this has been introduced.

"There's been several bills that have been introduced but they haven't had the support they needed to get passed,"

To gain that support. Morris is planning a rally- one local and one in Charleston.

Morris says that part of the reason supporting volunteer firefighters is so vital is that they make up such a large part of the state's response teams.

"The state, it relies so heavily on volunteers," Morris said "90.9 % of departments in West Virginia are volunteer fire departments,"

And a bill like the one Morris is proposing is not unheard of- it already exists in several other states.

"New York compensates their volunteer firefighters tremendously, Maryland does as well," said Morris "So many other states already do this and we're just behind,"

As far as getting the support of local legislators, Morris says she's been talking with senator Sue Cline (R- District 9) on how best to create a bill that will pass.

"After this education bill is settled she's gonna talk with me to set up a bill that she thinks will pass,"

In the meantime, Morris and her department are focusing on preparing for their first rally on July 14th in Morgantown outside of the courthouse