By Cody Perry, Captain, BSHA, MCCP
The Chapmanville (WV) Fire Deptartment was founded on March 17, 1954. The founding mission that is still followed today is to protect lives and property of residents within the Town of Chapmanville and surrounding communities. Besides providing fire/rescue protection we encourage and teach public safety. We are Station 3 of 12 Logan County Fire Departments. We cover approximately 95 square miles in our first-due area, including the longest stretch of US 119 in Logan County. We also run mutual aid with several other departments in Logan County and departments in Boone and Lincoln Counties. Our department averages 45 calls per a month. We are 100 percent volunteer and currently have 30 active members, seven probationary (in-training) members, 10 support staff members, and eight auxiliary members. We have the largest number of National Registered EMS Providers within the county (not including the local ambulance authority). Our fleet is made up of eight apparatus: a heavy rescue (Rescue 350), three Class A engines (Engine 351, Engine 352, and Engine 353), an 1,800 gallon tanker with Class A pump (Tanker 354), two Squads (Squad 355 and Squad 356), and a 102-foot aerial platform (Tower 360).
Since the founding of our department, we have been housed in the same building that was converted in 1954 from the local town hall/police department. Minor structural repairs have been routinely done throughout the years, but with the age of the building, it was in desperate need of a cosmetic overhaul. Because of the struggling economy in our area, mainly because of the decline of coal production, we found our county and city to be financially strained.
Thomas Perry, Jr., being an active member with the department for more than 30 years and chief for well over the last decade, has stood as a bold leader in the substantial growth and development within our department. In early 2017, he single-handedly changed the face of our department forever. Perry commenced to set our dream of having a new station into reality. After countless hours of planning, designing, and meeting with city officials, he finally received a sparse allotment of funds combined with department-allotted funds to begin. The summer of 2017 was the beginning of Phase 1 of our project, which included remodeling the interior and exterior of our current 60+ year old main structure.
Unfortunately, because of a very tight budget the Perry had to get creative and stretch our funds drastically. This is when the membership stepped in and made the project rather interesting. Unable to afford a contractor full time to complete the project, he was able to direct the membership into the more routine construction and use contractors for the larger more complex plans.
Our project took a significant twist when we came in contact with a state-certified general contractor, Dave Farmer. Farmer was a friend to many of the members within the department but lived in a nearby town and did not have direct contact with our department on a regular basis. After hours of discussing and planning between Perry and Farmer, a monumental task was about to take place and change the direction of our overall goal completely. It was immense enough that Farmer became like family to the members of our department—enough so that he moved his family into the area and became a member within our department. His training, knowledge, and military background was a perfect fit for our department.
After hundreds of man hours from Perry, Farmer, and the membership—along with stretching of the previously mentioned budget—it came to fruition. Bricks (12,500) were placed in intricate designs to layer the outside of the current 60+ year old building resulted in a brand-new look along with some new framing, drywall, and lighting on the interior.
Just as we thought this fantastic new appearance was the end of our journey Perry and Farmer conceptualized a Phase II of upgrades consisting of a brand new 60- by 80-foot two-story structure to be built in an adjacent lot that adjoins our current building lot.
Perry again went back to the drawing board and created hand-drawn blueprints to start the new construction. With additional meetings set up with county commissioners, he approached them with the newest updated Phase II plans accompanied with completed plans and photos from Phase I. After considerable efforts from the chief, the County Commission has allotted funding for the next phase.
As you can imagine, a building of this magnitude would need four to five times the allotted funds devoted from the county commission. Deemed necessary to complete the project on a crunched budget, yet again our membership has stepped up and will fill the void by donating their time to help with construction. Our membership will be supervised by the vigilant eye of Farmer.
**All photos provided are from current or past members. Chapmanville Fire Department owns and reserves all rights for use of these photos.