It was a fire in early March that put the Belington Fire Department behind.
A blaze that destroyed Sisolack's truck repair shop ignited the propane carried by a tanker in the shop. The fire melted valves on the tanker, blocking the propane from escaping, and keeping the department there for more than a week to keep the tanker from exploding.
During those days, Belington's gear was in use nonstop.
"The time that those trucks were on scene, they ran nonstop. We had to have fuel trucks bring us fuel because we couldn't tear a truck down and go get fuel, they had to bring fuel to us," said BFD Lieutenant Matt Ryan.
The department eventually got help from another department in Virginia that burned off the excess propane faster. But the department was stuck with repair bills on its equipment. One engine had to be sent to Charleston to have its transmission replaced, and some of the firefighters' gear was put in service far longer than is usually expected, which only added to the costs.
"When we're exposed to that kind of fire, gear has to be replaced or has to be checked. Same way with our air bottles, our air packs that we breathe air through. All that stuff has to be updated and rechecked and recertified," Ryan said.
Fire departments across West Virginia do get some funds from the state, but not nearly enough to operate for an entire year. And that means volunteer departments like Belington are left to make up the difference. And that's a project they have to work on year-round.
"It's amazing the dedication you have with the fire departments here. Yes, it's tough for them because they are volunteer, so every dollar that they have, they've earned," said Cindy Hart, director of the county office of emergency management.
Tickets for the Belington Volunteer Fire Department Fall Bash are $40 each or three for $100, and each gives you three chances to win. You can purchase tickets from any Belington firefighter or at the businesses below:
Philippi Discount Tire
Ryan's Auto Repair
Wheeler's Sporting Goods
Shop N Save Express in Belington, Elkins, Weston, and Philippi
Belington Town and Country