We all like to show our support for first responders and they appreciate the gratitude. However, one group of these courageous heroes, the volunteer fire departments, many times are overlooked. With the rural nature of West Virginia, I’m not sure there’s a more important group within a community than those who serve as members of the VFDs. These folks put their lives on the line during every call. Sometimes, as we saw last weekend, that call can have tragic consequences. Most people never think about the fire fighter, police officer or EMT being injured while responding to a call. They are usually the life savers.
This past legislative session, the West Virginia Legislature saw fit to help first responders in the event the unthinkable happens. SB625 allows for $100,000 to be provided to the beneficiary of a responder killed in the line of duty. Unfortunately, for members of the Pratt Volunteer Fire Department, this legislation is taking effect too late. Article 6-30 of the West Virginia constitution states no act of the legislature shall take effect until the expiration of 90 days after it’s passage. So, SB625 won’t become law until June 10.
However, House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead and the Governor’s Office have had a discussion about the possibility of retroactively changing the effective date of SB625 to January 1. In an article in today’s Charleston Gazette Mail, the discussion has been whether this change can take place administratively or if it will need to be done through legislative action.
Whatever the case, it’s important our leaders do what’s right to help our VFDs. SB625 is a step in the right direction, and it’s good to see that our leaders at the state capitol are looking out for the best interest of our first responders and their families.