MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County voters will be asked to approve the Additional Fire Services Levy in the May primary election.
From 2025 through 2029, the levy would generate about $3.4 million for 12 Monongalia County volunteer fire departments: the Monongalia County Hazardous Incident Response Team, the Monongalia County Brush Fire Team, the Monongalia County Volunteer Fire Companies Association, and the City of Morgantown Fire Department.

On WAJR’s “Talk of the Town,” President of the Monongalia County Volunteer Firefighters Association Mickey Rinehart said volunteer firefighters here and across the state do a lot more than just put out fires.

“Some departments do first response for EMS to help assist them; we do car accidents, and a big thing departments do is road hazards—moving trees out of the road,” Rinehart said.

“With the cost of everything going up, more departments are applying for grants, and more departments are fighting for that raffle money as well,” Rinehart said. “Sometimes things get a little slim.”

The economy and inflation have forced many departments to fold in the last few years, and the dollars are essential for public safety. For example, the cost of the pants and suit worn by firefighters is about $3,000, and the essential breathing apparatus costs departments about $7,500.

“So, we’re looking at about $10,000, and that’s just to outfit the individual,” Rinehart said. “That’s not counting tools, hoses, or any equipment they need to use.”

Without levy proceeds, fire departments would have to scramble to meet the costs for insurance, utilities, facilities, updated equipment, and maintenance. Departments are still required to hold fund-raisers and raffles to fully fund their operations. The vast majority of equipment purchases are used equipment, and some are donations.

The Star City Volunteer Fire Department received the donation of a 1990 Pierce Lance fire engine, but the department still has to raise $15,000 to repair the engine.

“Some departments have purchased trucks; we have used them to buy a couple of apparatuses at the River Road Volunteer Fire Department,” Rinehart said. “Some have purchased turnout gear and breathing apparatus.”

For the first time, the city of Morgantown is included in the levy, according to Rinehart. The Morgantown Fire Department will receive about $20,000 per year to support their operations.

“It will also allow us to partner with the city of Morgantown; they’re going to get some money out of this,” Rinehart said.

Voters can cast an early ballot at the Mountaineer Mall, Mason Dixon Park, and the Suncrest Towne Centre from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 11.