Requested additional funding would offer help to Division of Forestry during peak forest fire season

CHARLSTON, W.Va. — West Virginia State Forester Jeremy Jones says he hopes lawmakers will see the need for a supplemental appropriation requested for his agency that will help battle forest fires in the Mountain State.

Jeremy Jones

Jones said the measure, which is included in Gov. Jim Justice’s proposed state budget, would set aside $755,000 to hire 20 to 24 part-time firefighters, call fire wardens. The additional personnel would be designated to help during the peak of the forest fire seasons in West Virginia.

“The 2023 fire year was extremely busy and the governor was aware of that need. We’re hoping this will help get us a more robust workforce and some additional help,” Jones said.

The idea is a new venture for the Division of Forestry. Historically the agency has largely been its own force when it comes to forest fires. Although backed up by local volunteer firefighters, the agency typically took on the fight with its own people. But 2023 proved the task may be bigger than the manpower.

The additional funding would help in the most volatile times of the spring and fall, Jones said.

“The way I envision it would be some part-time employees called up as needed or put on a preparedness status if we know dry weather is coming,” he explained.

Jones believed they would hire some who have already been trained in firefighting skills, but added it’s likely all would have to go through a wildland fire fighting course.

“This is a new venture for us so I’m sure it will adapt and change, but we’re wanting to have these folks ready to go and flexible so that when we call them up we can use them promptly.” said Jones.





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