FOLLANSBEE - Follansbee's fire chief raised concerns about new standards being eyed for the state's volunteer firefighters Monday as he also approached Follansbee City Council for financial assistance in purchasing a new pumper truck.
Follansbee Fire Chief Larry Rea said pending state legislation calls for West Virginia's volunteer fire departments to meet about 90 criteria set by the National Fire Protection Administration, a trade organization that sets guidelines for the operation of fire departments as well as building codes.
Rea said the standards cover a variety of elements, including training and equipment, and he's concerned about the potential law's impact on smaller, volunteer departments such as his own.
Rea said the proposed changes include requiring volunteer firefighters to undergo yearly medical evaluations and a greater number of hours of training. The latter, while well intended, would be particularly difficult for volunteers who already work to fit in close to 100 hours of training around their work schedules, he said.
Rea said the West Virginia Firefighters Association has raised concerns also, and City Manager John DeStefano said the West Virginia Municipal League is expected to discuss the bill at its meeting this week in Spencer, W.Va.
DeStefano and Mayor David Velegol Jr. will represent the city at the meeting.
Rea also asked council to work with the fire department to purchase a new pumper truck at an estimated cost of $400,000. He said the current truck is a 1994 model and it's recommended that most trucks of its kind be retired after 10 years.
Rea noted the department recently paid off a squad truck it purchased some time ago.
Councilman at large Jim Andreozzi said he's concerned about financial obligations while council is unsure of the future of the Mountain State Carbon Plant, a major industry in the city.
Rea acknowledged that concern but said it will take about a year to draw up specifications, seek bids and purchase the new vehicle.
The request was referred to council's next regular meeting, which will be held at 7 p.m. Monday at the Follansbee City Building.
In other business:
Andreozzi asked DeStefano about a water line break on Mark Avenue he said has been unrepaired since May.
Carla Kafton, a city clerk, confirmed residents have called to ask whether they are paying for water running from the line and along the street.
DeStefano said residents aren't paying for the water because its cost is being paid by the city. He said city crews were slated to fix the leak, which may be the result of a damaged valve instead of a line break, but numerous line breaks in the Hooverson Heights area took precedent.
"It looks bad, but it's not as bad as some of the breaks we've had (elsewhere)," said DeStefano, who added the city's shorthanded public works department has worked on two to four line breaks each day this summer.
Tony Paesano, president of the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce, told council of plans to hold a dedication on Aug. 30 for the fountain monument at Follansbee Park honoring all local veterans.
The fountain was funded by council, the chamber, 20th Century Woman's Club and many local businesses.
Paesano said plans call for recognition to be given to veterans in attendance as well as those who died while serving their country.
There were plans for the dedication to coincide with a performance by the Vince Villanova Big Band, one of a series of free concerts scheduled for the park this summer. But the concert may be held on another date to allow the band sufficient time to set up and perform before dark.
In related business, DeStefano said the Legend concert scheduled for Sunday, which was canceled because of rain, will be rescheduled for a date to be announced.
Mary Kimberland, organizer of the Follansbee Summer Basketball League, asked council for permission to hold a Halloween event for youth at the park in October. Council members offered encouragement and agreed to consider official action at its next meeting.
Kimberland also thanked council for allowing her to use Mahan Park for the league, which included about 60 youth, ages 4-18.
Brian Petrella of the Follansbee Baseball Association presented a plaque of appreciation to council in recognition of its support and asked about repairs to a fence and dugout benches at the pinto ball field and efforts to establish a dugout for the field behind the Rite Aid.
DeStefano said all of the projects are in the works through the efforts of the city or volunteers.
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