After a devastating fire in 1906 the Town of Marlinton formed three hose companies. The first motorized pumper was purchased in 1932 at a cost of $1,400. The unit was housed in the old Marlinton Electric building at a cost of $4 a month. In 1942 a delegation from Campbelltown requested fire department service to their town. About the same time a limit of 15 miles was placed on responding to out-of-town fires. In 1955, an ambulance and rescue squad was added.
Two-way radios came in 1964.
In 1974, the Town received two trucks from a government program through the County EMS. One was converted to a tanker for out-of-town fires. Tanker #21 was purchased new after the 1985 flood. Then, the department consisted of 45 personnel with more than 500 years of service. In the early days, you worked with what you had and experience, (more often than training) happened while you were fighting fire. Those days are gone forever.
Now, training is a requirement and re-training is on-going. Workers Comp on each member is required. Equipment is expensive. Many items such as air packs and even service uniforms have mandated expiration dates. Consequently, local volunteer fire departments all around our state are already in or are headed toward financial woes that threaten their continued operation(s). The Marlinton Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) is no different in this respect. The Town wants to see our Fire Department continue to serve and to respond in the same professional manner we have come to expect.
Ask any community club or civic organization if they need volunteers and all will say “yes.”
Think about our fire companies. Being a volunteer fireman takes a tremendous commitment. Currently, with 30 members (one of whom is paid), the MVFD is responding to all needs as they arise. To that end, the Town is committed to doing all it can to train and equip our firemen for their own safety and for a safe and successful outcome to all calls.
Leadership in the fire departments has shed light on problems going forward. Those of us who depend on fire services must understand “their problem is our problem, too.”
If we are community-minded, if we are committed to doing our part to keep our emergency services strong and equipped to do the job that we expect them to do, then, we should not expect them to put themselves on the line with one hand tied behind their back.
Think about this: as we travel, we take for granted that, if something happens, there is a system in place we can depend on. Surely, we want to do our part where we live. All fire services are provided on our behalf. At any time, their response may personally benefit any of us or a loved one.
The problem is simple. The answer is not.
Operation costs associated with running any VFD continue to increase as local, state and/or federal grant dollars dry up. MVFD is no exception. Taking care of equipment is a given. But, there is more to it than that. Equipment cost for replacement(s) are compounded by expiration dates as mandated by law.
The cost of travel and training must be met to maintain our class V rating.
None of us need Fire or Rescue until we need it, and then, we really need it.
God forbid, that any of our loved ones find themselves in an emergency situation. But, if that be the case, (in this first response area), it will be the MVFD and the equipment that you and I have provided them that will respond.
Marlinton and its first response area are blest to have a group of dedicated and talented individuals who are willing to put themselves at risk on our behalf. I want to do all I can to help them meet the challenge of keeping the best people available and the best equipment possible to do the job.
To be continued…