SMITHERS, WV (WOWK) – The Smithers Fire Department has announced they will be temporarily shut down for a few days as part of a “reorganization and restructuring” effort.

Interim chief of the Smithers Fire Department Benny Filiaggi says he enacted the shutdown effective Monday, Aug. 14, 2023, with support from the Town of Smithers’ administration and from the fire department’s board of directors. He says the temporary shutdown is “not expected to last more than two or three days.

According to Filiaggi, the fire department made arrangements for emergency response to be handled by the Montgomery Fire Department with assistance from the Armstrong Creek, Glasgow and Boomer fire departments. The West Virginia State Fire Marshal’s Office says there is no need for people in Smithers to worry in case of an emergency.

“This will absolutely not affect service,” said West Virginia State Fire Marshal Chief Deputy Robbie Bailey. “The Montgomery Fire Department is barely a mile away from Smithers. All you gotta do is come up the bridge, and they’re there. So very quick access to emergency response needs for any fire department need.”

Filiaggi was appointed as interim fire chief in February, and also serves as the Montgomery Fire Department’s fire chief. Since he was appointed, Filiaggi, the board of directors and town leaders say they have been working to “reorganize and restructure” the Smithers Fire Department to better serve the community. He says this includes examining response protocols, membership statuses and other operational items.

According to Filiaggi, the fire department is experiencing a “manpower and experience shortage,” and during this shutdown, he is designing a training program, including a mentorship program with neighboring fire departments, to help get the firefighters “up to speed” as they restructure operations.

Filiaggi tells WOWK 13 News there are currently 10 volunteer firefighters in the department. The town’s mayor says there used to be as many as 20 volunteers.