Dear Editor:

I would like to share this Open Letter to the Citizens of Pocahontas County:

I want to clear up some of the misconceptions and misrepresentations circulating regarding the BFD Fire and Rescue.
First, regarding the new Green Bank Station. 

The old station is small and on a piece of leased land that does not allow for expansion.  We saw the purchase of the dealership as providing both additional space for more equipment and an area for providing training classes and fundraising functions.

If you dispute the need for more space, ask a member to arrange a tour of the old station.

Regarding the modifications to the dealership, before final purchase and after consulting with the West Virginia State Fire Marshal, we were aware that we would need to add a firewall between the bay and the office space. Several BFD members have worked hard to make the space ready for a professional builder to install it. 

The statement circulating that the doors are too small is inaccurate. One of the first things we did was measure them.
Regarding the purchase, that we spent too much, or that we got a special deal, we purchased it for a negotiated price slightly under the initial listing. We had not contacted the agent prior to the listing. The initial decision to purchase the building was presented to the membership who agreed to proceed with the purchase.

Where did the money come from? 

We are a nonprofit company that receives funds from various public and private sources. Over the many years we have been in existence we have tried to be frugal and buy the best equipment available at the lowest price we can. We also try to have money on hand to repair or purchase equipment if there is a breakdown so as not to leave the citizens unprotected. A new “fire suit” (“turnout gear” in fire parlance) costs in the neighborhood of $8,000. 

A fire truck or an ambulance is in the neighborhood of $200,000. 

Through saving and care in spending over the course of 40 or 50 years we have been able to address our equipment needs without financing.  

We did purchase the new station outright, and were able to do so by being good stewards of the money we have been given. The new property will allow for expansion and get us out from under a situation of an owned building on leased property. 
Regarding the structure of the fire company, BFD is a private, nonprofit company. The membership votes on all issues, from buying new ambulance cots, to purchasing a new station. There are officers, but they have no more say in expenditures than anyone else.  

The officers are elected from a very small pool of qualified people. The qualifications are state mandated. These qualified people have used their personal time to take some very rigorous and time consuming classes required by the state to hold these positions.  Without someone filling these positions the state would shut down the department. 

There are several people in the community who are using public forums to attack BFD, asking for truth, or the facts, often about untrue or distorted rumors.  

If you have a concern, I urge you to talk to a BFD member that you trust. 

We would gladly answer any questions, or if we don’t know the answer we will try to find out.  

We will not, however, be bullied by Internet trolls who spread distortions or spin stories out of bits and pieces of misinformation.

Leisha Cassell,
Administrator
BFD Fire and Rescue