TEAYS VALLEY, W.Va. -- The Teays Valley Volunteer Fire Department, which threatened to leave the Putnam County Fire Board last year, has officially decided to stay, the department's chief said Wednesday.
"After meeting with our internal fire department board we reached a consensus to stay," John Smoot said.
Last November, Teays Valley hired an attorney and told the county's fire board it would leave the board and become a nonprofit agency as of July 1.
The move came after several attempts to raise the annual county fire fee, which funds Putnam's eight volunteer fire departments. In October 2011, commissioners denied the request a second time. The fee hasn't been raised in more than 20 years.
In January, Smoot said he wanted to negotiate because of criticism that if Teays Valley left the fire board it could be disbanded. Smoot had asked the board to, among other things, develop a revenue-distribution plan from fire fee money based on district population and response numbers and allow firefighters to be paid per call and to provide incentives for volunteers.
Even though the fire board denied Teays Valley's requests last month, Smoot said he believed once the fire fee is raised -- which he said is inevitable -- his department's needs would be met.
"Once the fire fee is increased, then bigger and busier departments will receive more money than smaller departments," Smoot said.Putnam fire departments are working to gather signatures in support of raising the fee to persuade Commissioners Joe Haynes and Gary Tillis to change their votes. Commissioner Steve Andes, president of the fire board, voted to raise the fee.