The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

August 3, 2011

Ronceverte council votes for Organ Cave VFD

RONCEVERTE — The Ronceverte City Council voted Monday evening to issue a letter of support for the formation of a volunteer fire department based in the unincorporated community of Organ Cave.

Matt Morgan, one of the organizers of the anticipated VFD, advised council that the boundaries of the fire company’s reach have not been finalized. Discussion of that issue thus far has contemplated the Organ Cave VFD taking half of the current territory of the Ronceverte VFD, which has been relieved of firefighting responsibilities by the state fire marshal’s office.

Organ Cave’s VFD could also extend its reach into Monroe County, Morgan explained, thereby “easing pressure” on the Union VFD.

The Greenbrier County Commission has voiced support for the new fire company, and Morgan said an appeal will be made to the Monroe County Commission for a similar endorsement.

Ronceverte administrator Pamela Stevens told council that residences and businesses located within 6 miles of a fire station typically benefit from lower fire insurance rates in West Virginia. The national standard is 5 miles, she added.

“This (new VFD) would definitely help Organ Cave residents,” Stevens stated.

Following the council session, Morgan explained some of the process involved in starting a new fire department, saying step one is contacting the fire marshal’s office in Charleston for guidance.

“In phase one of the process, you need to get local approval — from county commissions and city councils in the surrounding area — and also show there’s support from the public in that area,” Morgan said. “Since we would be joining the Lewisburg and Union lines, we need to get letters of support from both Greenbrier and Monroe counties.

“Once you have all the letters of support and a plan for funding, you go to the fire commission, and they grant or deny a charter for the department,” he said. “It’s going to be a slow process, but we want to make sure we do it right the first time, so we’re willing to take the time we need to.”

Morgan estimated the entire process of getting the VFD up and running will take around two years.

The Organ Cave Community Center donated space to the VFD’s organizers for a fire station, and Morgan said grant opportunities are being identified now. Some possibilities for startup grant funding include USDA and Homeland Security programs, he said.

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