W.Va. Department Ordered to Stop Responding


A Marshall County volunteer fire department has been ordered to cease and desist any and all emergency, mutual aid or service calls due to failure to provide worker's compensation for its members.

The Big Wheeling Creek Volunteer Fire Department has been taken out of service until further notice by the West Virginia State Fire Marshal's Office, according to a news release from Marshall County Emergency Management.

Marshall County Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said that he and Marshall County 911 Communications Director Larry Newell were notified by the State Fire Marshal's Office early Monday afternoon that Big Wheeling Creek VFD was ordered to stop all services.

This is the second time the state ordered the fire department to temporarily shut down. In April 2009, the state suspended the department's operations for the same reasons and it was closed for six months before the state allowed it to reopen.

The state fire marshal, Sterling Lewis, said he wants to investigate why workers compensation coverage lapsed again. Lewis also said the small department's dwindling membership is a concern.

Mike Mucheck of Marshall County Emergency Management, said, "It concerns us. The VFDs are constantly faced with training requirements and a lot of their membership has been dwindling in the past year so, yes, it puts a strain on all the VFD units."

The office of emergency management said it's a quiet area by the Big Wheeling Creek VFD, but there are at least 50 structures the department is responsible for keeping safe.

Mucheck said, "Should (people) need them, there will be fire trucks there to protect their property."

In April 2009, Hart said an emergency plan was developed by fire, 911 and emergency management personnel to provide coverage in the Big Wheeling Creek area.

Now, Hart said that the plan would go into effect immediately. Two Ohio County fire departments, Stone Church and Mozart will be used, as well as Dallas, Limestone and Mt. Olivet fire departments from Marshall County. The Marshall County Tanker Task Force will also be used for fire calls. Stone Church, Dallas and Limestone will also be notified for EMS calls.

Marshall County emergency management officials said they are not sure how long the state's cease and desist order will remain in effect.

NEWS9 tried calling the fire department's chief at the number that the office of emergency management had on file but didn't have any luck. County officials said they have not been able to talk with anyone from the department either.

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