KEYSER - Upset over some comments made by the Keyser City Council in regard to their request for safety lights to be placed on their ladder truck, members of the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department set up a demonstration recently to illustrate the need for the safety equipment.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - Upset over some comments made by the Keyser City Council in regard to their request for safety lights to be placed on their ladder truck, members of the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department set up a demonstration recently to illustrate the need for the safety equipment.
Fire chief Brett Biddle presented the request to the council members on Jan. 24, estimating the cost at $5,400.
The council members, however, didn’t seem so sure they should spend the money on something that one of them called “cosmetic,” while it seems probable they will have to buy an engine for the company in the near future.
“It’s not cosmetic,” Biddle told the officials, “It’s for safety.”
The council said they would set up a meeting with the firefighters to further discuss the issue before taking a vote at a later meeting.
On the night of Jan. 31, several firefighters set up the 105-foot ladder near Fire Station No. 2 and filmed member Teddy Weasenforth climbing the ladder in full gear.
A number of firefighters and four candidates for Keyser mayor and council were present for the demonstration.
Weasenforth could clearly be seen in the video as he mounted the bottom steps, because there is a group of lights illuminating the bottom of the ladder.
As he slowly climbed up the ladder, however, he disappeared into the dark and could not be seen by those on the ground below.
Member Bill Harman noted that the visibility problem is even worse when they are operating under the smoky conditions of a structure fire.
Once the firefighter climbing the ladder gets beyond the lights, he must rely on his footing to make his way in the dark.
Monday, Biddle confirmed that the promised meeting between the city and the fire company had occurred, with city administrator Randy Amtower present.
Amtower had not been present for the Jan. 24 council meeting and member Terry Liller said he wanted the city administrator in on the discussion because “nobody knows the budget like Randy does.”
“We talked about what was in the budget,” Biddle said, adding that the request for the lights would be taken back before the mayor and council at their Feb. 14 meeting.
The City of Keyser originally purchased the ladder truck for the fire company, and also purchased an engine - which they are talking about replacing in the near future. The city also owns Fire Station No. 1 on West Piedmont Street.
The fire company owns the remainder of the equipment, along with Fire Station No. 2 on Cornell Street.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 14, at 4:30 p.m.