Cabell County Commission approves purchase of chain saws for VFDs | News

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HUNTINGTON — It wasn’t unanimous, but the Cabell County Commission voted to approve the purchase of new chain saws for the county’s seven volunteer fire departments Thursday.

Prior to taking the vote, Commissioner Nancy Cartmill questioned commission President Jim Morgan about the funding request.

“Where is the money coming from? I asked before, but I still don’t know,” Cartmill asked after a motion was made by Commissioner Kelli Sobonya to approve the purchase and seconded by Morgan.

“To the best of my knowledge, it would come from the contingency fund,” Morgan said.

The Cabell County Commission’s contingency fund is a reserve of money set aside to cover possible unforeseen future expenses, according to Morgan.

After the discussion, Morgan and Sobonya voted to approve the purchase and Cartmill voted against it.

In February, Andrew Frazier, deputy chief with the Barboursville Volunteer Fire Department and chairman of the Cabell County Fire Chiefs Association, made an approximately $9,800 grant request from the commission to purchase two chain saws per department following the February ice storms that left fallen trees across roads and even on some houses across the county.

“You’re looking at a total of 14 saws, the cases and hearing protection,” he said. “Each fire department will receive two new chain saws.”

The seven county volunteer fire departments are Barboursville, Ohio River Road, Salt Rock, Milton, Culloden, Ona and Green Valley.

The seven responded to an estimated 581 to 646 calls from Feb. 10 to the early morning of Feb. 19 — loosely about 20% to 25% of the number of calls the departments have averaged together in years past. The calls ranged from checking for downed power lines, to cutting down trees, clearing reads or any weather-related needs. They also continued to respond to typical calls, such as reported fires or car wrecks.

Barboursville responded to 145 to 170 calls; it averages 950 for an entire year. Ohio River Road responded to 140 calls, 103 for downed trees and 16 for power lines; it averages 350 a year. Green Valley responded to 100 to 125 calls and averages 360 calls a year.

Salt Rock firefighters went in the field 50 times for the storm, while they average around 125 calls in a year. Ona responded to 55 to 60 calls that week, about one-third of the 175 to 200 they average a year. In eastern Cabell County, Milton responded to 71 storm-related calls compared to 600 average calls a year. Culloden went on 20 to 30 calls when it averages 120 a year.

“I think the majority of volunteer fire departments in Cabell County responded to the most calls ever in one month during the February ice storms,” Frazier said.

Frazier added that the new saws can also be used on brush fires.

“They will be put to use,” he said.

After the commission meeting, Sobonya spoke about her support of the purchase.

“The volunteer fire departments throughout our county went above and beyond during the back-to-back ice storms and major outages, assisting citizens of Cabell County with major storm damage and tree removal,” she said. “Their lack of the ability to do regular fundraising due to COVID prompted my support to give them the tools they need to assist our citizens in times of need.

“The request for approximately $9,800 to purchase two commercial-grade chain saws for each of the seven departments is a small step in helping the folks we represent.”

Frazier said volunteer fire departments rely on the support of the community.

“We are very thankful to the Cabell County Commission for approving this purchase,” Frazier said. “I urge all citizens to support their local volunteer fire departments.”

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