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Fire District Pulls Equipment From Bluff View

Fire trucks and equipment were removed from the Bluff View Fire Station Monday evening following the Clearwater Fire Protection District meeting. The board unanimously voted to remove the three trucks and other equipment from the Bluff View station. The decision was made six months after members of the Bluff View community pledge to respond to fires and be active firefighters. The fire district board members said that Bluff View firefighters have not been responding to fires. They also cited that the Bluff View Fire Association has not paid a nearly $3,000 bill that is owed to the fire district.
Board members stressed that the Clearwater Fire Protection District will continue to provide fire protection for the Bluff View area. The only difference will be the trucks will not be housed in that community. According to several firefighters, CFPD firefighters from other stations arrived on scene at the last Bluff View fire before Bluff View firefighters.
The motion to remove the trucks and equipment passed by a 4-0 vote—Steve Walsh, Hayes Wilkins, Ann Adams, and Sandy Bearden ratified the measure. Board President Babb did not vote; he only votes in the case of a tie vote. Walsh made the motion, and Bearden seconded it.
In November, the CFPD board voted to remove the trucks at Bluff View but that did not happen. When CFPD crews arrived at the station, the General Election was underway. County authorities would not allow the removal of trucks and equipment because it would interrupt the election process.
The Bluff View Fire Station is owned by the Bluff View Fire Association. This group is not composed of firefighters. It is more a social organization that hosts community events like Bunko and Cookies With Santa at Christmas. The BVFA has been paying the annual insurance premiums. The fire district has been paying the monthly electric bills and propane bills. CFPD Treasurer Steve Walsh reported that Bluff View’s electric bill was three times higher than any other station’s bill last month.
According to information presented at Monday evening’s meeting, problems with Bluff View are nothing new. For the last two years, the CFPD and Bluff View firefighters have had controversy for two years. Several years ago, the Bluff View community and the CFPD had issues. In March, the CFPD board sent a bill to the Bluff View Fire Association for approximately $3,000 to cover events hosted at the facility. The bill has not been paid. According to Fire Chief Earl Mumper, he was told that the Bluff View Fire Association was “sitting on the bill.”
Monday evening, nothing interrupted the removal of three trucks. When the fire district meeting adjourned at approximately 8 p.m., a crew of about seven drove to Bluff View. Fire district pumps were loaded onto a truck and a brush truck, a tanker, and a pumper were driven from the station by FCPD firefighters. Within an hour of the end of the meeting, the trucks were delivered to other locations within the fire district.
According to fire district personnel, the trucks were removed without controversy. When the trucks were pulling out of Bluff View, one member of the Bluff View Fire Association had arrived on the scene and watched the trucks leave.
All Bluff View firefighters would also dismissed from the fire district, according to information presented at Monday night’s meeting. The decision to remove the firefighters from the district’s roster was due to inactivity. Fire Chief Earl Mumper reported to the board that Bluff View firefighters do not participate in district training events and do not respond to fires. The last fire Bluff View firefighters responded was a fire at the Greenville Business Complex. Bluff View was told that their tuck was not needed as part of the mutual aid process but two firefighters drove a brush truck to the fire.
The fire district will also be having the electric shut off at the Bluff View station. The board members said that if they are not using the building, they will not be paying utilities.
According to information presented Monday evening, the issues at Bluff View have been discussed with firefight­ers on numerous occasions. Board member Sandy Bearden said she felt that the fire district should have removed it equipment from Bluff View a year ago.
At one of the meetings, Bluff View firefighters reportedly told board members they had been told not to respond to fire unless paged. At that time, they were told that was not the district’s policy. They were to respond to all fires unless told to stand by.
In November, it was stated that Bluff View had responded to one fire in the last year. After that meeting, community residents pledged there would be a change. New members of the fire department were added; within a few months, those new firefighters had quit the department because of controversy in the community and on the Bluff View Fire Association.
Several of the fire board members stated they felt as if members of the Bluff View Fire Association were playing games with the fire district.
Walsh reported that he and Chief Mumper drove out to Bluff View a week ago to check to see if something had been left on in the station to create the high electric bills. Within seconds of arriving at the scene, a BVFA board member arrived on the scene wanting to know why they were at the station. She told Walsh and Mumper that they were not supposed to be at the facility unless there was a fire.
Mumper added that any time he has been at the Bluff View station, someone arrives within seconds questioning why he is there.
Bluff View, which is in Reynolds County, provided between $4,000-$6,000 of tax dollars to the fire district annu­ally. The fire district has had multiple trucks and several pieces of equipment housed at that station. Until the last few months, CFPD firefight­ers did not have access the trucks or equipment; the only people who had access to the building were Bluff View fire­fighters and members of the Bluff View Fire Association. When Sandy Sutton served as Bluff View Fire Association president for a few weeks at the first of the year, she reached an agreement with the fire district. A key pad was installed, allowing CFPD firefighters access to the portion of the building where trucks and equipment were housed. They would not have access to portions of the building used by the fire association. Sutton resigned as fire association president after a few weeks after members of the association could not agree on composition of the board and bylaws.

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