Local fire chief says changes will benefit community

ROCK CAVE — The new fire chief at Banks District Volunteer Fire Department updated the Southern Upshur Business Association on some changes in his department.
“There’s been a lot of change going on and I know people are afraid of change,” John Roby said. “But we have to change. We have to update and keep moving forward.”
Roby said the biggest changes are for the department’s apparatus.
“We are updating, but we are not spending any money,” he said. “Our equipment is updated. The fire marshal was up here and very happy with what is going on.”
“We are basically taking these big trucks that these younger people cannot drive because they are 18 speeds and 12 speeds and we are getting automatics,” he said. “We are updating them with gears and we are making these trucks multi-purpose. I have three trucks that can do the same thing on any fire scene.”
The Banks District VFD has 22 members and 16 firefighters. Of those, about eight to 10 firefighters are responding to calls.
Something Roby is working to correct is the response time to calls.
“Our response time was absolutely awful,” he said. “Now, our response time is within eight minutes of being on scene.”
That is one reason he started taking a fire department vehicle home.
“That is how we are getting our times right now,” he said.
Those changes should make the Banks District community eligible for a lower insurance rating, which can save homeowners on their insurance.
“We qualify right now for a 5/9 right now with the changes that have been made,” he said. “You are a 6/9 now.”
Roby said the department would still like to recruit younger members who are able to tackle some of the physically demanding tasks that the older members can’t always do.
But he said that he is proud of what the current membership has done to work together for the community.
Roby said he has taken some questions about the computer lab that was closed down in the fire department.
“We just don’t have the money right now,” he said. “I liked what Sharon [Bonnett] did and she was great at it, but unfortunately she is not here.
“Will we do that in the future? I hope so. Right now, we can’t afford to do that. We are trying to tighten our belt and do what is important.”
The fire department’s monthly meeting is the first Thursday monthly at 7 p.m.  The community is also invited to Monday night work details/training at the fire department to learn more about what the firefighters are doing.

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