July 25, 2023
TEAYS VALLEY, WV (WOWK) – When part of an apartment building went up in flames three weeks ago, Teays Valley Fire Chief John Smoot said every second was the difference between life and death.
“The lightning storm took out the alarm system in the complex, so nobody’s smoke detectors were working. Had we been delayed five more minutes that fire would have been a totally different outcome. We could have ended up with a fatality in that fire,” Smoot says referring to the Devonshire Apartment fire.
Now, firefighter and EMS response could be delayed due to budget cuts. While many departments in putnam county are strictly volunteer, the Teays Valley Fire Department is staffed 24 hours a day.
However, come August 13th, Chief Smoot says the staffed hours will be cut in half as the result of the Putnam County Emergency Services Levy failing last November. To maintain current staffing levels, the chief and three part-time paid captains will now forego their salaries, but Chief Smoot fears longer response times could have devastating results.
“We had cut it down to six minutes. It may go past twelve now,” Smoot says talking about the response time possibly doubling after August 13th. Other programs including smoke detector installation and maintenance services, the Drone Program for rescue operations, the Learning Management System, and the annual Santa Claus program will also be cut come August 13th.
Teays Valley first responders are now hoping they can increase the budget in an effort to keep response times low.