UPDATED STORY (2/1/2020):
KANAWHA COUNTY, W. Va. (WOWK) – In an overwhelming vote, residents in St. Albans have voted to pass the fire levy. The vote passed Saturday in a 423 to 9 vote, that’s a nearly 98 percent vote in favor of the levy.
ORIGINAL STORY (1/30/2020):
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WOWK) – This Saturday, the future of the St. Albans Fire Department is in the hands of the city’s residents. The department wants to make sure the residents understand the importance of what they are voting for. Right now the department has more than twenty paid firefighters on staff. If the fire levy continuation does not pass, that would cut 70 percent of salaries.
“Our average response time is two minutes and thirty seconds for over 13-hundred emergency responses last year and that capability is allowed to happen because of the capabilities from the fire service levy,” Lt. Chris Collins with the St. Albans FD.
Collins says if the levy doesn’t pass that response time could drop significantly, which is why they are encouraging the St. Albans community to vote yes.
“Fires double in size every minute so every minute we are not there that fire is going to double, so instead of losing a room or maybe half a home you are losing half a block,” says Collins.
The levy helps the department provide prevention resources to the community like keeping a minimum of 5 firefighters on staff at all times, which directly correlates with their quick response time. It also allowed them to make 133 home fire safety visits, install 500 smoke alarms and 80 carbon monoxide alarms in the last year.
“One of those carbon monoxide alarms actually saved two people a week after we put it in,” says Collins.
The levy also allows the department to keep up with extensive training and safety measures. Right now, they have an ISO, or insurance service office, rating of two is saving residents money on insurance.
“That puts us in the top four percent of fire departments in the country and a lot of insurance companies look at that when they are calculating the premiums that folks pay for homeowner insurance,” Collins tells 13 News.
The levy has been in effect since the 1950s, which allowed the department to become a full-time department in the first place.
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