The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

January 7, 2013

Volunteer firefighters want guaranteed voice on state fire commission

CHARLESTON — Volunteer firefighters are adamant that a proposed change in a law expanding the state Fire Commission by four members needs to clarify that a governor is obligated appoint someone to represent them.

In the legislation prepared before the upcoming session, however, it reads the governor “may” appoint three members from the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association.

Tom Miller, legislative chairman for the group, and lobbyist Sam Love say this language is unacceptable.

“Leaving appointments to say the governor ‘may’ opens it up to being politicized,” Miller said Monday, as January interims opened.

The measure was on the agenda of Government Organization Subcommittee A, but without a quorum, the panel couldn’t act on it.

“We don’t want the appointments to be political,” Miller said.

“We want the appointments to be made of people who have technical knowledge of our job since they will be writing the recommendations we have to follow.”

If the bill is enacted as written, Miller and Love said, the governor could name anyone he wishes, even members of his family without any experience in fighting fires.

“He could appointment anybody from this bill,” Miller said.

“He could appoint a window washer. The job we do is a life-and-death job. The people that are promulgating the rules that we have to follow have to be knowledgeable of our business. That’s all we’re asking.”

The proposal would add four new members, and this specifies that one must be a master electrician, another an electrical inspector, a third has to be a sprinkler fitter, and the fourth a licensed home inspector.

Miller and Love have no qualms about that lineup but said it is critical that the other 13 members must necessarily represent the volunteer units.

“We want someone who has experience running and operating a volunteer fire department to be on the commission so they have an understanding of our position,” he said.

Miller said he cannot foresee Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin ever ignoring the volunteers, but once he is out of office, “you never know who is going to be elected.”

“It could be a major change to us,” said Miller, a longtime member of the Sissonville VFD.

“Under the current administration, I don’t see it as a problem. In future administrations, we have no control over it.”

Moreover, Miller said his group would like to see volunteers get a larger voice on the commission, since they provide 90 percent of the fire services in West Virginia.

Miller pointed out that the paid Beckley Fire Department is surrounded by 13 volunteer units in Raleigh County.

“It would be to us inappropriate for only the career department to have a voice in governing all of the fire services in Raleigh County,” he said.

“Although Beckley has a major voice at the table, that voice should be heard from everyone.”

— E-mail:

Text Only
Latest News
  • legion VIDEO: American Legion posts plan to merge

    To help deal with its decreasing membership numbers, Beckley American Legion Post 70 is planning a merger with Post 32.

    “We see the benefit for both of us and for Raleigh County,” Post 32 Adjutant Frank Cook said. “Right now Post 70 is having membership problems and with membership problems comes financial problems.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before hearings

     More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 31, 2014

  • legal Tort reform group brings message to Beckley

    How can West Virginia create more jobs and have a better business climate, at no cost to taxpayers?

    Greg Thomas, executive director of the West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse (WV CALA), says legal reform is one of the answers to that question.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • ‘Biscuit guy’ makes his mark with anthem at TWV

    The old saying “being at the right place at the right time” couldn’t be more true for Calvin Alexander.

    Thanks to a salad dressing bottle (and some impressive vocal skills), Alexander was invited to sing the national anthem not once, but twice, at Theatre West Virginia before the opening of “Hatfields and McCoy

    July 31, 2014

  • Judge in W.Va. asked to delay gay marriage ruling

    Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has asked a judge to postpone ruling on a federal lawsuit challenging West Virginia's same-sex marriage ban until the U.S. Supreme Court reviews a ruling in a similar case in Virginia.

    July 30, 2014

  • Tri-state coal interests rally before EPA hearings

    More than 2,000 union workers and others organized by the coal industry in Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia joined top state elected officials Wednesday to rally against proposed stricter federal pollution regulations for coal-burning power plants.

    July 30, 2014

  • Work continues on stand-alone Warrior Trail

    The executive director of the Hatfield and McCoy Trail Authority said Tuesday that officials are still working toward the creation of the stand-alone Warrior Trail in McDowell County.

    July 30, 2014

  • East River Mountain Tunnel repairs will continue for several weeks

    Motorists traveling Interstate 77 could see slight delays again tonight as repair work continues inside of the fire-damaged East River Mountain Tunnel.

    July 30, 2014

  • State leaders to attend coal rally in Pittsburgh

    West Virginia officials are set to join hundreds of coal miners and coal supporters at an electricity and energy jobs rally.

    July 30, 2014

  • Americans continue to be plagued by debt

    Credit card debt may have reached its lowest level in a decade, but according to a recent study on personal debt vs. income, just as more people are paying off their credit card debt monthly, nearly the same number of people are being reported for unpaid bills. 

    July 30, 2014