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BFD Chief Kimble Discusses Pocahontas Street Fire and Massive Volunteer Shortage in Upshur County

December 3, 2022

Mountaineer News

Buckhannon City Council

BUCKHANNON - During the December 1st Buckhannon City Council meeting, city fire chief J.B. Kimble provided insights into to the Pocahontas Street fire on November 27th that destroyed a home and caused injuries.

Chief Kimble also addressed major concerns county-wide with the lack of volunteer firefighters; the county is currently anywhere between 30-40 firefighters short and Buckhannon hasn't received a volunteer application in over two years.


1. Chief Kimble explained to council how the Pocahontas Street fire was one of six structure fires that they responded to within a period of 11 days, and provided further insights into the first several minutes of the Pocahontas Street response.


2. Chief Kimble shares communications he's had with other agencies/entities about the need for recruiting and retention, but stated:

"The Buckhannon Fire Department has not received an application for the volunteer fire department for two years. We’re in fear that this is a kind of a culture... a generational gap. People are not into volunteering anymore; and that doesn't matter whether it's with the church, whether its with the Lion's Club or whether it's with the fire department," he said.

Chief Kimble went on to discuss the huge impact of the department's 11 volunteers, who have committed over 6,000 hours of station coverage and training hours for the Upshur County Community in the past year alone.


3. Chief Kimble briefly explained the instant review and after action review that occurs after every event per their accreditation, and explained that initial staffing is a major concern every time an after action form is filed.


4. Chief Kimble discussed the personnel injuries that occurred during the "high intensity" operation on Pocahontas Street November 27th, and how the county has fallen 30-40 firefighters behind.


5. Once all investigations have concluded and the Pocahontas Street property is returned to the owner, Chief Kimble invited City Council and the Upshur County Commission to join the initial crew at the site to get a visual of how the first five minutes are crucial for saving lives.


6. Chief Kimble explained to Council the need for a peer support group for our firefighters, paramedics and police officers, and how he's working diligently to create a system for personnel to have a way of talking someone after an event.


7. Chief Kimble addressed council questions and comments.

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