BFD gets new rank structure


BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon Fire Department got a step closer to accreditation at the Nov. 1 city council meeting. Fire Chief JB Kimble approached the city council to ask for a vote to verify all the services the Buckhannon Fire Department offers.

“We have to explain what we do and this basically brings it out,” Kimble said. “You have to prove that you do these services and how you provide for the community and what level you provide. This is saying the city sanctions going through accreditation and there is a definition for each one of them. We do fire, tactical rescue, emergency medical services, hazardous materials and there is some miscellaneous non-emergency response that we do.”

Kimble said the services listed may not reflect all the services the BFD offers, but they have to have them in writing and show they provide those specific services. The fire department has been going through the process of being professionally accredited by the Center for Public Safety Excellence, which would make the BFD the only fire department in the state to reach this level of accreditation. The website for the Center for Public Safety Excellence said acquiring these accreditations raise the profile of your agency with this community, emphasize your agency’s dedication to excellence, establish an agency wide culture of continuous improvements and more. The motion to approve the request was made by councilman Robbie Skinner and seconded by councilwoman Pam Cuppari.

After the motion passed Kimble stayed at the podium to discuss the next order of business, the ranking structure for the Buckhannon Fire Department. Kimble said the rank structure needed be updated due to the accreditation process.

“When you look at the Buckhannon Fire Department we’re one fire department in the eyes of West Virginia. We’re not a city volunteer, we’re the Buckhannon Fire Department so that being said with the accreditation process we had to have the same standards for our officers and ranks on the volunteer side as we have for our career guys,” Kimble said. He said the volunteer firefighters would be tested for higher ranks just like the career firefighters.

“In discussion with our volunteer organization, They have taken it upon themselves to accept the testing process on their behalf just the same as the career staff they will have the same job description and the same training requirements,” Kimble said.

Mayor David McCauley asked who would administer the tests to be promoted for volunteers.

“Who would administer the test because under state code it is paid a fire department, are you proposing our fire civil service commission would have anything to do with this?” McCauley asked.

Kimble said he and another officer would be the ones administering the tests.

“No, they would buy the test and they would buy the study books for their people, the volunteer ranks and then an officer and myself would administer that test from within,” Kimble said.

McCauley asked if Kimble had considering including nearby fire departments in this process.

“Is there prospects to reach out to the other department in the outlying area Hodgesville, Adrian?” McCauley asked.  “Might they consider participating in this also?”

“I can ask,” Kimble said. “But this a pretty big undertaking for our volunteer fire department, we were very pleased to hear they were willing to take it on. They’re all about our accreditation. They see the improvements and they see what this will do to.”

Councilman CJ Rylands said what the potential costs of this proposal might be.

“If we expand from one captain to potentially three captains and currently two lieutenants to potentially five lieutenants what’s the financial impact?” Rylands asked.

“When you are looking at the paid side a captain gets a 50 cent raise, when you go from lieutenant to captain so you are looking at a little over $1,000 per person that goes from lieutenant to captain,” Kimble said.  A lieutenant when he goes from fire fighter first class to lieutenant they get a 25 cent raise so the monetary amount is not huge, but the role is.”

The motion to pass the proposal was given by councilman Robbie Skinner and seconded by councilwoman Mary Albaugh.

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