Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

May 31, 2014

Mercer Commission approves resolution to raise fire fees

PRINCETON — The Mercer County Commission voted Friday to approve a resolution to increase fire fees in the county.

In a special called meeting, the commission voted 3-0 to approve the resolution, but a public hearing must be held first, according to County Commission President Mike Vinciguerra.

“We will have to set a public hearing before we can proceed and I am not sure exactly what the fee will be raised to,” Vinciguerra said.

The fees will only apply to the county. It would not affect any city limits such as Princeton or Bluefield, Vinciguerra said.

“The fee would help all the volunteer fire departments,” Vinciguerra said.

In an earlier interview, Steven Sommers, president of the Mercer County Firefighters Association, said volunteer fire departments need more money for equipment and other expenses that continue to increase while income has remained the same.

Firefighting equipment is expensive, Sommers said. For example, in a letter to the county commission dated March 17, he said that a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) for a firefighter now cost approximately $5,200, which is an increase of $4,000 from 15 to 20 years ago. State law requires each riding position on a fire truck to have an SCBA; if a truck has three positions, this means purchasing $15,600 in SCBA equipment in addition to other equipment that can cost $2,500 to $3,000 per firefighter.

The cost of doubling fire fees would not be a major expense for residents, he said.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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