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UPDATE: Belpre City Council Approves Measures on EMT Service, New Fire Station

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UPDATE 10/29/2013 9:40 AM

Belpre City Council was on a roll Monday night, approving two resolutions and two ordinances.

The Belpre Fire Department will no longer pay for EMT service as of November 1.

In its third and final reading the now approved measure will allow them to keep 70 percent of the fees for squad runs and allow the city to hold 30 percent to fund a new vehicle in the future.

A second reading over the construction of the new fire station was moved to a third reading and approved.

The new station will be on Farson Street and at no cost to the city.
UPDATE 10/15/2013 5:00 PM

Even without the construction right now, there have been lots of changes in the last few years on Belpre's Farson Street.

One of them is about to involve the city's west end fire station.

Belpre City Council gave first approval Monday night to legislation leading to the construction of a new Farson Street fire station.

Mayor Mike Lorentz says it's to be at the parking lot of the old International Converter Plant.

The current fire station will be torn down.

It is located near the Marietta Memorial complex and the land could be used for more hospital expansion.

The mayor says the new station will be bigger.

UPDATE 10/15/2013 9:43 AM

Time is running out to secure continuing EMT service in Belpre.

Belpre City Council suspended the rules Monday night to get two readings in on the new funding for EMT service.

The Belpre Fire Department will no longer pay for EMT service as of November 1.

The proposed measure will allow them to keep 70 percent of the fees for squad runs and allow the city to hold 30 percent to fund a new vehicle in the future.

Belpre is on track for a final reading before the end of the month.

In other news, the city is preparing to swap property to relocate the fire department to a new building on Farson Street next May.
Updated: 8/13/2013 6:10 P.M.

It was money from the sale of instant tickets which, for two decades, helped to pay the emergency medical technicians who responded to daytime calls in the city of Belpre. That was while volunteer EMT's were working day jobs.

"As much work as they put into their job," says Zach Ivey, Belpre Resident. "They should have something to show for it. ( They deserve to be paid)."

With the closing of that fundraiser last year, that funding source ended. Belpre Mayor Mike Lorentz says the firefigher/EMT's are not city employees, so the city cannot fund the daytime squad members.

Acting fire chief Bruce Cowdery says after November first, daytime calls are likely to be referred to Wood County 911 or the Little Hocking fire department. Another resident believes that's not a viable option.

"We had a guy go down in here with a heart attack, and Belpre was out," said Trinity Regard, a vendor at Peddler's Junction, "and it took Parkersburg almost an hour to get here. I was doing CPR on him when they got here. No, I think we need people a lot closer to here."

"My mother is handicapped," Ivey says, "and it would be great to know there's somebody there for you at any second."

Regard says he would support a tax or fee to help fund the EMT's.

Councilwoman Susan Abdella wants residents to weigh in on what kind of emergency services they want in the city's future, and how they should be paid for.


The city of Belpre has volunteer emergency medical technicians, but most aren't available during the day, because they also have paying jobs.

"Not just daddy works any more, but both parts of the couple, mom and dad, husband and wife, work now," says Mayor Michael Lorentz. "So the daylight hours is our problem."

For two decades, response to daytime emergencies has come from paid EMT's; two full-time and two part-time. But the Belpre Volunteer Fire Department, Incorporated-a separate group from the department's administration-says it no longer has the money.

"They, as a group, can't do that any more, and we've never had to do that," the mayor says. "So we, as a group, have to sit down to talk about it."

The reason: declining sales of instant tickets used to fund them, as well as a decline of the volunteers to sell those tickets. Eric Sinnett II, the head of the funding group, says the rise of lottery parlors in West Virginia has resulted in decreased demand for the Belpre tickets.
One option: a levy to fund those paid EMT's, one not unlike volunteer fire levies in other communities.

"I don't think we need to go that route, yet," says Lorentz. "That will be discussed when the service director, myself, the officers of the club and probably the finance committee together to discuss that."

They have two months. That's when Sinnett says the paid positions are due to end.

Currently, the city gets money from third-party billing for emergency medical runs...but none of that money goes to the paid EMT's.

When asked about that today as a funding option, Sinnett said it's up to the city to find a way to keep the service going.

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