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Fire Department asks for money
Lana Whitlock.jpg
Lana Whitlock

Harrison Ferry volunteer firefighters are struggling to do day-to-day tasks with their outdated equipment. 

Harrison Ferry Fire Department president Lana Whitlock is trying to get some of the ARP money sent their way to better protect firefighters and the community.

Whitlock told the county’s ARP Committee the Harrison Ferry Volunteer Fire Department is struggling. She says they are unable to buy a lot of the equipment firefighters need. 

“We had a brush fire on top of the mountain the other night and I tell you, no joke, this guy is humongous and whenever I got up there, he is standing out there with a cutoff shirt and his boots. He had nothing and he was out there working a brush fire,” said Whitlock. “I felt terrible because this guy is too big for our equipment. We are up on the top of the mountain and we have to take care of what we do have. It sucks all of our money up just paying insurance.”

Whitlock told the committee someone broke into the fire department and stole five of the backpack sprayers firefighters use. She says residents are also not paying their fire dues.

“We have people on top of the mountain who are not paying. We have Overton Retreat up there and there are not even 25% of them paying their fire dues, but they are the first ones who want us to come and put things out,” said Whitlock.

“Do you have a policy on that?” asked Commissioner Carl D. Bouldin.

“Well, you could not respond, but we aren’t going to let someone’s house burn down,” answered Whitlock.

County Finance Department director Justin Cotten says there is a $25,000 limit on giving money to organizations, but he believes the county can get around that if they purchase the equipment for firefighters themselves.

“This is for the health and safety,” said Cotton. “If we buy the goods and give them to a fire department, I don’t think there is that $25,000 limit. That is just on a contribution.”

Whitlock would have to keep an inventory of the items and would be responsible for any damaged items if the county did purchase items. A few things the volunteer fire department needs are heat-resistant flashlights, backpack sprayers, new water hoses, and a new blade for the saw.

“If we had a car accident up on the mountain right now and someone needed to be cut out of the car, we don’t even have a saw with the blade to cut somebody out,” said Whitlock. 

Commissioners told Whitlock she sold them on her pitch and they will look into using some of the ARP money to purchase items for the volunteer fire department.