Washington Bottom Volunteer Fire Department
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Department History

Unit 12, Rescue 496, Unit 11, Unit 15
(From Left To Right) Unit 12, Rescue 496, Unit 11, Unit 15 "Brush Buster" (Front)

        The Washington Bottom Volunteer Fire Department Inc. was established in 1957 as the first volunteer fire department in an unincorporated area of Wood County. WBVFD is a state chartered non-profit corporation. Originally, the WBVFD provided fire protection for all of southern Wood County outside the city of Parkersburg. Over the years, four other volunteer fire departments have been formed taking parts of our original service district: Lubeck, Blennerhassett, Mineral Wells, and Pond Creek. Today, the WBVFD provides fire protection for approximately an eleven square mile area of southern Wood County. Currently, fire protection is provided for the communities of Washington Bottom, New England Ridge, Fairview, and the Lake Washington area.

        The Washington Bottom VFD has nearly 1000 residences in our area. WBVFD provides fire protection for one of the largest populations of chemical manufacturing facilities in the state: E.I. DuPont (one of the largest Dupont facilities in the world), Sabic Innovative Plastics (GE), Northwest Pipe, Page Paper Products and lumber yard, and Linde Gas/Air plant. There are several million square feet of warehouses in our fire protection district that provide support and storage to the area chemical plants. The LPSD (Lubeck Public Service District) main water treatment facility and sewer treatment facilities are also located in the area. Major roadways in the area include U.S. Route 50 (Corridor D), West Virginia Route 892, Lake Washington Road, New England Ridge Road, and Meldahl Road. Our department also provides coverage for approximately ten miles of the Ohio River which is heavily used by commercial barges and pleasure boats. Miles of railroad also run through our response district transporting product including coal, timber, and chemicals.

        The Washington Bottom VFD original fire station was constructed on land donated by the Palmer family. Construction of the original fire station was completed in 1958. Over the past 50+ years, the original station was added to and was also remodeled. In 2010, the fire station roof began collapsing. The fire equipment was moved from the unsafe structure to a temporary fire station. This move allowed us to continue to provide our services to the community until a new station could be constructed. In the fall of 2010, the original fire station was demolished and a new fire station was constructed on the same site as the original. The new fire station is complete with a training room and large bay area for equipment storage and training areas. The new fire station was dedicated on June 4th, 2011. Information and pictures of the original and new station can be viewed on the station page.

        In 1957, our original fire engine was actually built by our members out of two trucks donated by the Parkersburg Fire Department. Members combined the two trucks to make one good working fire engine, a 1930 open cab American LeFrance. The second fire engine obtained by the fire department was a 1940s model open cab Ford obtained from the Navy through the WV Forestry Division. It was later donated to Blennerhassett VFD. The Third fire engine was a 1949 GMC front mount pump that was obtained in the 1960s. The fourth fire engine was a yellow 1970 Sutphen Chevy Pumper, purchased new. The fifth engine, and our current front line pumper, is a 1990 Pierce Lance, was purchased new.

        The department has also had several tankers (used to haul water in rural areas with no fire hydrants) over the years. In the early 1960s, our first tanker was a 1947 or 1948 International Harvester tank truck. Later, that tank was put on a 1966 Ford Chassis. In 1977, that tank was moved again onto a 1977 Ford chassis, but rusted out in 1979 and the body had to be rebuilt. In 1993, our current tanker was purchased.

People's Cartage Warehouse Fire - June 26, 1985
People's Cartage Warehouse Fire - June 26, 1985
(Note How Hood Is Raised To Assist With Keeping The Engine From Overheating)

        In previous years, the department also provided emergency medical transport for our area. Our first ambulance was purchased used a year before the formation of St Josephs ambulance service. It was a 1964 Cadillac ambulance. Call demand required the purchase of a new 1972 Dodge Horton ambulance. That ambulance was replaced in 1986 with a Ford Box ambulance. The ambulance service portion of the fire department was abolished in 1989 as there were then two ambulance services in town, and costs did not justify the ambulance being kept.

        Currently the fire department consists of all active volunteer firefighters. All firefighters meet or exceed NFPA certification. Most firefighters are also EMTs or first responder level medical trained. Firefighters also have numerous hours of training in hazardous materials, auto rescue, farm rescue, brush fires, structure fires, high and low angle rope rescue, boating incidents, and numerous other areas.

        Our fire department responds to a variety of calls for service including fire, rescue, medical, boating, haz-mat, etc. The vast majority of our emergency calls are for emergency medical first responder calls. These calls consist of medically trained firefighters responding, obtaining vital signs, and initiating treatment in the field until an ambulance from town can arrive to transport the patient into a hospital.

        The Washington Bottom Volunteer Fire Department currently responds with the following apparatus: Engine 11, Tanker 12, Rescue 14, Rescue 15, and Boat 16. Pictures and information can be viewed on our apparatus page.

        We are very proud of our heritage and the many members of the fire department that have created our history. Many members have dedicated their time to proudly serve others in our community since 1957 and we at the Washington Bottom VFD will proudly carry on that tradition for many years to come!

Fire Chiefs

William Beha 1957 - 1958
Donald Moore 1959 - 1960
Carl Butcher 1961 - 1983
Tom Smith 1984 - 2004
K.C. Linder 2005 - Present

Unit 12, Unit 15, Rescue 496, Unit 11
(From Left To Right) Unit 12, Unit 15 "Brush Buster", Rescue 496, Unit 11

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