NITRO, W.Va. -- Fire officials in the twin cities of Nitro and St. Albans have worked out alternate aid agreements for when the Dick Henderson Memorial Bridge closes next month.
The bridge, which ties Nitro and St. Albans together, is being replaced by a new, three-lane span. The bridge is scheduled to close Jan. 7.
But more than providing the quickest way between the two cities, the bridge has been a lifeline for emergency services response between Nitro and St. Albans. The two cities have historically had an automatic aid agreement in place, requiring firefighters from Nitro to automatically help out with fires across the river in St. Albans, and St. Albans firefighters to pitch in to help fight fires in Nitro.
"We had an automatic aid agreement with St. Albans, that, when they dump the bridge, will no longer be in effect," said acting Nitro Fire Chief Ron King.
King said the Nitro Fire Department has a staff of 11. St. Albans has 21 firefighters, according to St. Albans Mayor Dick Callaway.
Firefighters made use of the aid agreement last week, when firefighters from both St. Albans and Nitro battled a blaze in a Nitro service garage.
"They came over here 30 to 40 times a year, and we went over there 30 to 40 times a year," King said.
But with the bridge scheduled to be closed from next week through November, fire officials in both cities have had to work out contingency plans.