HB 2852, a carry over from 2015 dealing with legalizing fireworks, contains no provision to help support the financial burden that will be placed on volunteer fire departments within the State. Volunteer Fire Departments will have an increased response volume and in turn, higher workers compensation costs and other overhead, due to the increased use of fireworks when they become legal. The two entities listed within the bill that will obtain funding have no direct ties to fireworks in as much as licensing or emergency response.
It is a slap in the face to the volunteers and volunteer departments that give so much to the State of West Virginia to ask them to yet again, take on an additional responsibility of responding to incidents for which there may be a loss of life, severe injury or serious property loss without so much as adding a single penny to their operating funds. I think I speak for a lot of fire fighters and fire departments across this State when I say that we are absolutely sick and tired of having more and more responsibilities placed upon us without a funding mechanism to offset the costs associated with the added burden.
Therefore, being there is no additional funding coming from this legislation to further support the work of volunteer fire departments, the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association stands opposed to this legislation.
We are making arrangements for all of our members to contact the legislature, first by way of the House Finance Committee, to show our opposition. We have 10,000 volunteer firefighters within the State. Our area of influence covers another 30,000 people. Our voices will be heard on this and any other matter that is brought to our attention that degrades the performance of our duties to our local communities.