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W.Va. fire department gets $675,000 from feds for truck

August 18, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

BEDINGTON, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

The federal government has chipped in $675,000 to help the Bedington Volunteer Fire Department buy a 100-foot ladder truck needed to protect a growing number of large buildings in Berkeley County, officials said Wednesday.

No fire department in Berkeley County has such a piece of equipment, but it is needed to reach tall structures in the county such as City Hospital or the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, said Tommy Newcomb, Bedington's fire chief.

It also is needed because of growth in the area that has spawned new hotels and motels and other large structures such as a Internal Revenue Service facility and the U.S. Coast Guard's Operations System Center, both in the Baker Heights area, Newcomb said.

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"We're in need of that ladder truck and have been for years," Newcomb said.

U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., announced the funding for the truck in press releases Wednesday.

The total cost of the truck is $750,000. The Berkeley County Fire Board will pay 10 percent of the cost, Newcomb said.

The biggest ladder truck in the county is owned by the Martinsburg Fire Department, Newcomb said. That truck has an 85-foot ladder, which is not tall enough to reach the highest sections of City Hospital and the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Newcomb said.

The new firetruck, like Martinsburg's truck, is called an aerial platform truck. The ladder has a "bucket" attached to its end to make it easier to rescue people, Newcomb said.

The truck will have to be built to meet the county's specificiations and Newcomb said he expects will it will be about nine months before the department receives the truck.

Newcomb praised Capito for her work to secure the money and said the department would not have recieved the money had Capito not become involved.

"Firefighters have some hefty responsibilities and precious moments to respond during an emergency," said Capito, who worked with local officials to secure the grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "The new aerial platform truck will allow firefighters to rapidly respond to large structure fires, saving precious moments that will help save lives."

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