With the Independence Day holiday weekend approaching, the city of Wheeling’s fire and police departments are reminding residents and visitors not to use or ignite illegal types of fireworks within city limits.
City ordinance 1535.01, enacted in 1981, forbids the usage of any firework that propels into the air that is combustible or explosive, flammable or audible. This includes bottle & skyrockets, roman candles, and sky lanterns.
The ordinance does allow the use of certain fireworks within city limits for those wishing to celebrate the holiday. They include sparklers, fountains, party poppers, snaps, smoke devices, and various non-propellant noisemakers.
Although multiple types of fireworks can be purchased following a change in West Virginia state law in 2016, they are still not permitted to be used within the city of Wheeling.
Last year, a change to city ordinance noted anyone who discharges illegal fireworks can face a $500 fine and the seizure of the materials. Wheeling Police will not be looking for people who are buying fireworks or transporting them in the city, rather shifting their attention and enforcement efforts on illegal discharging.
The fireworks ordinance was put in place more than 40 years ago to prevent the destruction of property from fire and reducing serious injuries. The first part of July is known to be hot and potentially dry, a perfect ingredient for outside fires.
Should anyone be using legal fireworks, the Wheeling Fire Department suggest that a water source, whether it be a hose, or a bucket of water be nearby for safety.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 44% of injuries related to fireworks are burns to hands or fingers. More than a quarter of fires started by fireworks in the nation occur during the Independence Day holiday.
The full city ordinance can be read online at wheelingwv.gov/fireworks.
Three Wheeling Firefighters were injured in fire that occurred in Center Wheeling early Tuesday morning.
The Wheeling Fire Department was called to 2141 Market Street around 1:37 a.m. after a downed electrical line caught the rear portion of the building’s roof on fire.
Crews were able to contain the fire to the back of the building, and those living in the inside were able to escape safely.
During the incident, two firefighters were treated after being shocked due to a power issue related to the storm. A third firefighter was injured from a fall due to the treacherous conditions. All were taken to Wheeling Hospital to be evaluated for their injuries. Two have since been discharged, and the third is still being treated.
No one was injured after a house caught fire in the Warwood area of Wheeling Wednesday night.
Wheeling firefighters were dispatched to 321 Warwood Avenue around 10:10 p.m. for an initial report of a smoke coming from an occupied home. When firefighters arrived on scene, flames could be seen coming from the rear of the house.
Firefighters were able to get the bulk of the fire contained within a half hour. The occupant was able to safely escape, and firefighters were able to rescue a dog.
A cause is undetermined at this time as fire investigators continue their work.
Units that responded to the scene include Engine Co’s. 2,5,9, Ladder 1, Rescue 1 and Squads 1 and 2.
The Market Street Bridge (located in Center Wheeling) is closed until further notice after an overnight fire underneath the span caused damage to the structure.
The Wheeling Fire Department was called to the bridge around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 7 after a homeless encampment caught fire.
WFD notified the West Virginia Division of Highways, who will preform an inspection of the span. Motorists are advised to use the Main Street or Chapline Street bridge for a detour.
The City of Wheeling’s Warwood fire station is finally home to a brand-new engine truck!
New Engine 9 – housed at Station 9 on Richland Avenue is a 2022 Sutphen 1750 GPM (gallons per minute) Shield Pumper. The truck rolled off the assembly line at the Sutphen Corporation facility in Dublin, Ohio in late April, but wasn’t officially put in service by the Wheeling Fire Department until Sunday, June 5.
New Engine 9 is the first brand new fire truck for the Warwood station since 1962. Many used fire trucks have served the area since then, with the most recent being a 1987 model.
“We sure did get good use out of our former 35-year-old truck for Warwood,” said Wheeling Fire Chief Jim Blazier. “This new, up-to-date addition to our fleet ensures that the Wheeling Fire Department is well equipped to fight fires and respond to various emergencies for another generation.”
In recent years, the fire department has been able to update its fleet, most recently with two new ambulances, and a new ladder truck in 2021. The new additions also allow WFD to keep older models in service for spares.
Wheeling City Council passed an ordinance to purchase Engine 9 in December 2020, using money from the city’s project fund.
The Wheeling Fire Department responded to a house fire in the North Wheeling area of the city Friday morning.
Just after 8 a.m., multiple calls were made to the county 911 center for a report of smoke coming from an unoccupied house at 456 Market Street. When units arrived on scene, flames and heavy smoke could be seen coming from the roof area of the structure.
Firefighters were able to get the bulk of the fire out in roughly 30 minutes and treated hot spots for the remainder of the morning.
No one was injured and Wheeling fire investigators will work to determine a cause of the fire.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a house fire that occurred in the North Wheeling area of the city late Thursday morning.
Around 10:35 a.m., firefighters were called to 610 Main Street, where flames and heavy smoke could be seen coming from the second floor of the residence. Initially there was a report of possible entrapment inside, but shortly after firefighters arrived, they learned all occupants were able to escape safely.
Firefighters were able to get the bulk of the fire under control in about 20 minutes. The house sustained heavy fire damage and is not able to be occupied at this time. WV State Route 2 was closed in both directions for about an hour.
No firefighters were injured. Fire investigators will work to determine a cause of the fire, which could take several days.
Beginning Monday, April 18, the Wheeling Fire Department will begin inspecting all fire hydrants over the next 30 days throughout all city neighborhoods. The process will take place Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday’s from 8 a.m. until Noon. Testing will not take place on weekends.
The testing process may stir up sediment resulting in discolored water. Should this occur, run water until it clears before using.
Inspections of the hydrants is a proactive measure done each spring to ensure the hydrants and lines withstood the colder winter months, are not leaking water and are functioning properly.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a fire that occurred on Wheeling Island early Wednesday evening.
Around 6:35 p.m., firefighters were called to 22 Zane Street after calls were made to the 911 center for reported heavy smoke in the area.
When firefighters arrived on scene, flames could be seen coming from the rear of the apparent vacant structure. Firefighters continued to suppress the fire mostly from the exterior throughout the evening because of the building being unstable and unsafe. Crews were able to get the fire mostly under control in about two hours.
No firefighters were injured. Fire investigators will work to determine a cause of the fire, which would take several days.
Around 9:45 a.m. Thursday morning, the Wheeling Fire Department was dispatched to 94 Kenney Street in North Wheeling for a reported house fire.
City of Wheeling Operations employees working in the area saw smoke coming from the house, alerted neighbors, and called 911 to report the fire.
Once on scene, firefighters were able to make a quick entry to the house and extinguish the flames. No one was injured and firefighters were able to rescue five dogs that were inside.
An exact cause is unknown at this time. The incident remains under investigation by the WFD Bureau of Fire Investigations.
The Wheeling Fire Department invites the public to an open house of its South Wheeling fire station this coming weekend as it marks a significant anniversary to the community. For 150 years, a firehouse serving that section of the city has maintained a presence on its current lot.
From Noon to 2 p.m., Sunday, March 13, WFD will allow citizens to tour the facility and learn about the history of the station with department personnel. The department’s mascot “Fire Pup” also will be on hand for kids to meet and take photos with the trucks.
Station 4, located at 3618 Jacob Street, opened on March 13, 1872. According to historical documents, there was little fanfare when the station opened. The original station was constructed shortly after the town of South Wheeling was incorporated into the City of Wheeling in 1871.
Nicknamed the ‘8th Ward Hose House,’ Station 4 is the only station that has retained its original designation and truck number in the city. The original station was razed in 1953, forcing firefighters to work temporarily out of a nearby Cooey-Bentz warehouse until the current building, which currently houses Engine 4 and Squad 3 was constructed in 1954.
The primary response district for Station 4 is the South Wheeling area from 27th Street to the city limit at 48th Street.
To learn more about the fire department’s history, visit wheelingwv.gov/fire.
Around 6:50 p.m., Wednesday evening, the Wheeling Fire Department was called to 118 North Front St. on Wheeling Island for an initial report of smoke inside a house.
When the first responding engine company arrived on scene, they located heavy smoke and fire coming from the basement area of the house.
Firefighters were able to extinguish the flames quickly, but worked to locate and douse several hot spots throughout the house for several hours.
The occupants of the home were able to escape safely and no firefighters were injured.
An exact cause is unknown. The incident remains under investigation by the WFD.
The Wheeling Fire Department announced Thursday the department hit a historic milestone in 2021, making it the busiest year on record for incidents. The department previously had a record-breaking year for calls in 2019, however, 2021 exceeded those numbers by an overall increase of 9%.
“Overall, the department as a whole had a very productive year,” said Fire Chief Jim Blazier. “Medical related emergencies have been on the uptick for the last decade, but 2021 recorded the highest call volume to date. I applaud our fire personnel, paramedics and EMTs who go on multiple ambulance and emergency runs a day to aid those needing our assistance.”
Medical/EMS calls for 2021 totaled 5,313, which accounts for roughly 68% of all departmental related incidents. This is up nearly 20% from the previous year.
“The first and last parts of 2021 saw significant rises in COVID-19 related illnesses. We believe that was one of the main contributors with the increase of medical/EMS related calls. Other factors that attributed to the rise in our ambulance services are calls pertaining to our aging population and the increase in vehicular traffic, which brought with it several crash related injuries,” Chief Blazier added.
Overall, total departmental incidents for 2021 tallied up to 7,849, up nearly 14% from 2020. Officials believe the increase was due to the return of festivals, sporting events and activities that requested or required departmental presence or response.
Fire calls have continued to decline over the years. In 2021, they dropped 14% from 2020. Other reductions from the prior year included good intent calls, hazmat situations and other non-fire related calls.
A category on the upswing was false fire alarms, up roughly 17%. Officials believe this is mostly because schools, restaurants and businesses were back to normal, and more construction/renovation related work in buildings around the city that prompted an accidental fire alarm activation.
Outside of the statistics, the chief said he is pleased most of last year’s emergency response efforts east of the Wheeling Tunnel did not experience any major delays when transporting patients to the hospital. He thanks the traveling public for sharing the road and being patient, especially along the I-70 detour route in the Fulton area.
“Last year, we got through challenging traffic obstacles with I-70 east being closed, which restricting quick access to Wheeling Hospital. The re-opening of the interstate – in both directions – is a relief to emergency responders,” said Blazier.
The chief also noted last year, the city purchased and put two new Ford F-450 ambulances into service, enhancing the department’s aging fleet. Another new addition was a brand-new ladder truck, now housed at the department’s headquarters in Center Wheeling.
Chief Blazier said the department remains committed to serving the residents and visitors to the City of Wheeling in 2022 and is excited for the future.
“This year will bring much anticipated enthusiasm to the Wheeling Fire Department. This spring, WFD will break ground on a new headquarters in East Wheeling, with the hopes of occupying it by early 2023. We also are eagerly awaiting a brand-new engine truck for our Warwood fire house in the fall. I am thankful to city council and our city manager who continue to invest in our public safety services,” Blazier said.
Calls for service are categorized by the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) Code Guide. A breakdown of the 2021 calls are as follows:
2021 Total Calls for Service: 7,849
Just after 1 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 26, the Wheeling Fire Department was called to a house fire on Richmond Ave in the Mozart neighborhood.
When the first responding engine company arrived, flames were seen coming from the second floor and attic area of the house. The home occupants were able to escape unharmed and no firefighters were hurt during the incident. The house was damaged from the fire and smoke and is likely a total loss. Wheeling Fire Investigators will work to determine a cause.
With the 2021 holiday season in full swing, the Wheeling Fire Department wants to remind the public about several potential fire dangers and safety concerns this time of year.
Fresh cut Christmas trees are the most dangerous source of house fires during the holidays. According to research, many do not follow key fire and burn safety tips during the season, which can be one of the most dangerous times of the year.
“Water your live tree daily,” said Wheeling Assistant Fire Chief Deric Jamison. “A dry tree, if ignited, can engulf your living room with fire in just ten seconds.”
A survey found that 70-percent of people are aware that live trees should be watered daily, but only 45-percent follow through. A fresh cut tree can consume up to a gallon of water daily. Officials recommend cutting at least an inch off the tree just prior to placing it in its stand.
Another tip this time of year involves electrical cords and overloading power sources. “Never use damaged extension cords or plug a lot of things into one outlet. Wiring can get hot overtime, that can result in a fire. Always keep cords free of obstacles, and never run them under furniture or carpeting,” Jamison added.
Some additional tips from the WFD Bureau of Fire Prevention to keep yourself and other safe this time of year include:
Should one encounter a Christmas tree fire, or another fire related incident, never try to handle the matter on your own – always call 911.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a fire that took place early Monday morning in Elm Grove.
Around 12:30 a.m., firefighters were called to 125 Gamble Ave for a fully involved house fire. When the first responding engine company arrived, heavy fire and smoke was showing from the rear of the house. The fire then spread inside to the upper floors.
The occupant was able to escape safely, and no one was injured during the incident.
An exact cause is unknown, as the fire remains under investigation by the WFD
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Agency once again for National Fire Prevention Week– set for October 3-9, 2021.
This year’s national theme is ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety’ – a campaign aimed at educating the public on the different sounds that smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors make. Another key sound everyone should know is the beeping or chirping sound in an alarm – a safety indication that means action must be taken.
Assistant Wheeling Fire Chief Deric Jamison with the department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention encourages everyone to take a moment to learn about this year’s theme.
“You are twice as likely to survive a fire if you have a working smoke alarm. It takes seconds to change the batteries, test and learn the sounds. When your alarm is chirping – whether it be a smoke or carbon monoxide detector, don’t wait! Get yourself new batteries or install a new alarm before it is too late,” said Jamison.
The Wheeling Fire Department encourages everyone to ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety’ by following these tips:
National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the “Great Chicago Fire” of Oct. 8-10, 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.
The Wheeling Fire Department will also hold informational public meet and greets from 1-3 p.m., Monday through Wednesday at the Mount deChantal Kroger, Warwood Kroger and the Elm Grove Reisbeck’s.
WFD also reminds everyone to change the batteries in their smoke alarms twice a year – most notably on the ‘Fall Back’ and ‘Spring Forward’ clock changes. This year’s ‘Fall Back’ is 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 7.
For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit firepreventionweek.org.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a house fire that took place Thursday morning in Center Wheeling.
Just after 9:30 a.m., firefighters were called to 2319 Jacob Street for a fully involved house fire. When the first responding engine company arrived, heavy fire and smoke was showing in both the front and rear of the home.
The occupant was able to safely escape without injury and nearby neighbors were evacuated as a safety precaution. Firefighters were able to quickly contain the bulk of fire and no other homes were damaged.
An exact cause is unknown, as the fire remains under investigation by the WFD. Wheeling Police officers also assisted at the scene with traffic control
The Wheeling Fire Department is proud to announce the department has once again earned an American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline® EMS Award. For a second year running, WFD earned the highest honor possible, Gold Plus – one of few departments and organizations to do so in the state.
WFD was awarded Gold Plus for implementing high quality improvement measures for the treatment of patients who experience severe heart attacks.
The Wheeling Fire Department has been recognized by the American Heart Association year after year. In addition to Gold Plus this year and in 2020, the department earned the AHA’s gold award in 2018 and 2019, silver in 2017 and bronze in 2016.
“The ability for the Wheeling Fire Department to achieve this type of award the last five years is a testament to the hard work and dedication to the quality care our employees put forth on every shift,” said Fire Chief Jim Blazier. “This year’s award is extra special, given the fact we continued to maintain excellent health care services on top of the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”
Every year, more than 250,000 people experience an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) the deadliest type of heart attack caused by a blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it is critical to restore blood flow as quickly as possible, either by mechanically opening the blocked vessel or by providing clot-busting medication.
WFD’s highly trained EMT’s and paramedics play a vital role in treating heart attacks and serve as the first medical point of contact. They can save precious minutes of treatment time by activating the emergency response system that alerts hospitals to an incoming heart attack patient.
Additionally, the Wheeling Fire Department’s early activation can give the patient the opportunity to bypass the emergency department and instead go to a specialized department of the hospital, like the Cardio Cath Lab. This way, the hospital is better prepared for the patient.
The Mission: Lifeline initiative provides tools, training, and other resources to support heart attack care following protocols from the most recent evidence-based treatment guidelines. Mission: Lifeline’s EMS recognition program recognizes emergency medical services for their efforts in improving systems of care to rapidly identify suspected heart attack patients, promptly notify the medical center and trigger an early response from the awaiting hospital personnel.
The Wheeling Fire Department is investigating a fire that damaged an apartment building early Monday morning in South Wheeling.
Around 3:06 a.m., firefighters were called to 200 29th Street. When the first responding engine company arrived on scene, they were met with heavy fire coming from the main entrance of the structure. The fire then spread to a nearby carport area and damaged a car. Crews were able to contain the fire to the front of the building and prevent further structural damage.
Everyone inside was able to escape and no one was injured. The fire remains under investigation and an exact cause us unknown.
As the Independence Day holiday approaches, the city of Wheeling’s police and fire departments are reminding residents and visitors not to use or ignite illegal types of fireworks within city limits.
City ordinance 1535.01, enacted in 1981, prohibits any firework that propels into the air that is combustible or explosive, flammable or audible. This includes bottle & skyrockets, roman candles, and sky lanterns.
The ordinance does allow the use of certain fireworks within city limits. They include sparklers, fountains, party poppers, snaps, smoke devices, and various non-propellant noisemakers.
Although multiple types of fireworks can be purchased following a change in West Virginia state law in 2016, they are still not permitted to be used within the City of Wheeling.
“Each year, especially the first week of July, the Wheeling Police Department becomes inundated with fireworks complaints. Thanks to city council’s recent amendment to the fireworks code, anyone who discharges illegal fireworks can face a $500 fine and the seizure of the materials. We are asking everyone to be courteous of others and not ignite these,” said Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger.
The police chief noted that officers will not be looking for people who are buying fireworks or transporting them in the city. All attention and enforcement efforts will be focused on discharging.
Fire Chief Jim Blazier added that fireworks are known to cause fire and serious injury this time of year. “Typically, the days before and around the July 4 holiday are known to be hot and dry. The fireworks ordinance was put in place more than 40 years ago to prevent the destruction of property from fire and reducing serious injuries. We ask everyone to keep their neighbors, pets and friends in mind and to play it safe, even with legal fireworks.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 44-percent of injuries related to fireworks are burns to hands or fingers. More than a quarter of fires started by fireworks in the nation occur during the Independence Day holiday.
The Wheeling Fire Department will be flushing all city fire hydrants throughout the month of May in all neighborhoods. The process will take place Monday through Thursday during regular business hours. Hydrant testing will not take place on Friday’s.
The process can stir up sediment resulting in discolored water. Should this occur, run water until it clears before using. Testing is done to ensure the hydrants and lines withstood the winter months and are functioning properly.
CONTACT: WFD Bureau of Fire Prevention
City Manager Robert Herron has announced that James Blazier, a 32-year veteran of the Wheeling Fire Department, has been selected as the next fire chief upon the retirement of current chief, Larry Helms, effective July 1.
“James’ education and professional experience is a great fit for the Chief’s role. I believe he will continue the tradition of excellence in fire, rescue and EMS that the residents of Wheeling have grown accustomed while advancing the department,” said Herron.
A life-long resident of Wheeling, Blazier is looking forward to his new role.
“I am both honored and humbled for the opportunity to serve as chief of the Wheeling Fire Department. Having served under the previous three chiefs, I have large shoes to fill. Top priority will be to continue the legacy of service provided to our citizens and visitors to Wheeling,” said Blazier.
A graduate of Central Catholic High School, Blazier began his career with the Wheeling Fire Department in January 1989. He worked his way through the ranks as fire engineer, lieutenant, captain and assistant chief. In his most recent role, Blazier has served the past 12 years in an administrative capacity as training officer, EMS squad training officer and supply manager for EMS and firefighting equipment. Blazier is also a public safety instructor for Mountain State Education Services and is a registered nurse at MedExpress.
Blazier holds an associate degree in manufacturing engineering from Belmont Technical College and earned an associate degree in registered nursing from West Virginia Northern Community College. Blazier obtained a West Virginia adult education certificate; is a West Virginia/nationally certified paramedic and a CPR/AED first aid instructor; is a hazardous material technician level certified; and received several certifications upon the completion of numerous fire training courses through WVU Fire Service Extension, West Virginia Public Service Training and the National Fire Academy.
When he’s not working, Blazier enjoys spending time with family, automotive repair and classic cars, home repair projects and outdoor activities.
The Wheeling Fire Department mourns the loss of retired Fire Chief Cliff Sligar, who died Wednesday, March 17 in Wheeling.
Chief Sligar joined the WFD in June 1955. He served as Chief of the department from 1971 until his retirement in 1995. After leaving the WFD, he was elected to serve as a city councilman for eight years. In all, he gave close to five decades of public service to the City of Wheeling.
Current Fire Chief Larry Helms has fond memories of Sligar. “He was a firefighters Chief. He always had your back; and to me, he always will be the chief of the Wheeling Fire Department.”
Former Fire Chief Steven Johnston, who succeeded Sligar as Chief in 1995 and served in that position until 2007 said, “He was my professional father. He trusted me enough to hire me, and for that, I am eternally grateful. He always made himself available and never turned down a phone call. There was no one more committed to the WFD than Cliff Sligar.”
Sligar shaped the WFD to what it is today. He was instrumental in the department’s paramedic program and updating tactics and strategies on how firefighters would approach a number of fire and emergency situations (just to name a few).
In 2019, Chief Sligar was honored by Mayor Glenn Elliott at his annual State of the City address. Mayor Elliott said in part, “For 40 years, including 24 as chief, Cliff came to work at the Wheeling Fire Department to keep us safe. As chief, he was instrumental in bringing Emergency Medical Services to the Fire Department. Under his leadership, the Department’s investigation division was launched and the Police and Fire Departments combined their communication systems…I have no doubt that our community is safer today thanks to the efforts of Chief Sligar.”
Sligar was met with several challenging emergency situations. In January 1988, an oil spill in the Ohio River contaminated the city’s water supply. A letter to Sligar from then City Manager Mike Nau said in part, “I want to take a moment to tell you how impressed I was with your handling of the recent water crisis. I was dependent upon you throughout this crisis and you certainly maintained my confidence level in dealing with this situation. I have heard many times how fortunate the City of Wheeling is to have such a compatible and qualified individual protecting the public safety of our citizens. I certainly owe you a debt of gratitude.”
Thank you for your service to our country, our city and the Wheeling Fire Department, Chief! You will be missed. Our thoughts are with his wife, Sherry, two children, grandchildren and extended family.
The City of Wheeling’s Fire Department and the American Red Cross Ohio River Valley Chapter are resuming their plans to install roughly 200 free smoke alarms as part of the “Sound the Alarm” campaign.
Wheeling was chosen as one of three West Virginia “Sound the Alarm” cities in early 2020, with a goal to install free smoke alarms in homes to reduce the risk of death and injury due to a home fire. The presence of a working smoke alarm in a home reduces the risk of dying in a fire by 50-percent. The department was hopeful to complete its mission last spring but was halted because of the ongoing pandemic.
Starting this month and continuing until mid-April, Wheeling Fire Department personnel will install free smoke alarms to anyone living within city limits.
Those wishing to have a smoke alarm installed and receive in-home fire safety and evacuation information are asked to register by calling 304-232-0712. Residents are asked to leave a voicemail message with their name, address, and phone number for a call back from the Red Cross. Before the install date, a representative will inform you of an installation appointment date and time. You must be a Wheeling resident to qualify.
The “Sound the Alarm” campaign, established in 2014, has saved roughly 836 lives by installing more than 2-million smoke alarms making more than 900,000 homes safer across the United States.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention reminds everyone to test their smoke alarm monthly and to replace the batteries during the upcoming ‘spring forward’ time change on Sunday, March 14. The smoke alarms being installed will last for 10 years. Anyone who has a smoke alarm more than 10-years-old should have it replaced.
With frigid temperatures approaching the area next week, the Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention is reminding the public to be cautious during the remainder of the winter season, particularly when using alternative sources of heat.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, two in five wintertime fires are caused by space heaters, as well as most associated deaths and injuries. Fireplaces or chimneys were involved in approximately three in 10 home heating equipment fires.
“Over the last several years, we’ve unfortunately had to fight multiple wintertime fires where the cause came back to a secondary heating source,” said Assistant Fire Chief Deric Jamison. “Space heaters are not intended to be used as a main source of heat and should never be left unattended.”
Space heaters should be kept at a minimum three-foot distance from other objects. Fire professionals also suggest never using an oven or stove burners to heat a home. They also want to remind everyone to always turn heating devices off when leaving a room or a house altogether.
Another issue seen during cold weather snaps is indoor water pipes freezing or bursting. The WFD recommends keeping all indoor areas at a minimum 40 degrees to prevent any possible water damage.
WFD also reminds the public to check your smoke alarm batteries and carbon monoxide detectors regularly. Roughly three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or non-working smoke alarms.
The West Virginia Division of Highways advises that, beginning Monday, February 1, 2021, I-70 Eastbound will be closed from US 250 & WV 2 South - 16th Street Exit (Exit 1B) to the Oglebay Park Exit (Exit 2A) in order to begin phase two of the Fulton Bridge Replacement as part of the I-70 Forward Bridges Project. The US-250 North on-ramp to I-70 East will also be closed as a part of phase two. These closures will continue for approximately nine months. All thru traffic is advised to use I-470 as the official detour to reach points East, while local traffic is encouraged to use US-40 Eastbound. Detour signage will be in place to assist drivers in navigating the route change.
Heads up, phones down! Motorists are advised to be alert for changing traffic patterns and to expect delays. Any questions or concerns regarding the I-70 Bridges Project can be directed to the hotline at 304-810-3214. For additional information regarding the project, visit i70forward.com. Inclement weather or unforeseen circumstances could impact the project schedule.
Overall calls for fire and emergency medical services decreased in 2020, the first yearly decline in recent memory, according to the Wheeling Fire Department’s annual statistics released Thursday. The department previously had a record-breaking year for service calls in 2019, however, despite the drop in calls, 2020 brought on several different challenges.
“Last year was quite an up and down hurdle for the department,” said Fire Chief Larry Helms. “Overall, our call volume dropped, including most categories of service. In the spring, people stayed at home, and continued to stay put throughout the year. We believe because of that, people were more attentive to their surroundings, which helped reduce household fire risks. We did not have many severe weather-related events as we did in previous years; vehicle crashes/injuries were down, and medical calls dropped because we think people did not want to go the hospital.”
Chief Helms said one of the greatest obstacles for the department was not day-to-day business, or responding to certain types of calls, but purchasing safety supplies.
“Throughout a normal year, we are stocked with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). However, one our greatest concerns last year, during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was having enough N-95 masks, gowns, gloves and cleaning supplies. Thankfully, with the help of many in the local and statewide emergency management system, we worked through these issues and are prepared now more than ever for this long-lasting health crisis,” said Helms.
Overall, the total 2020 service calls tallied up at 6,899, down 4% from the previous recording breaking year of 7,204. Fire calls declined by 21%, followed by a reduction of false fire alarms by 19%, mostly because schools, restaurants and businesses were closed for several weeks during the spring stay at home order.
Medical calls were down overall by 4% compared to 2019, however overdose related calls were up by 22%. Of the total calls for service – 65% are medically related.
Call types that saw a slight increase were service calls by 13% and good intent calls by 13%.
Calls are categorized by the National Fire Incident Reporting System (NFIRS) Code Guide. A breakdown of the 2020 calls for service are as follows:
Total Calls for Service: 6,899
The Wheeling Fire Department has serviced the residents and visitors of the City of Wheeling since 1869 and staffs 97 full-time firefighters/EMTs in seven fire stations throughout the city.
Wheeling Firefighters were called to the scene of a house fire at 315 South York Street on Wheeling Island Sunday afternoon, January 3.
An occupant at the address called 911 around 2:43 p.m., and informed dispatchers the house was on fire. When the first responding engine company arrived on scene, flames could be seen coming from the front room and porch area of the house.
Firefighters were able to get the fire under control quickly and rescue two cats inside. No one else was injured. Ohio County Animal Control was called to care for the animals.
Investigators will work to determine a cause.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Investigations announced today the Nov. 1, 2020 fire at Avenue Eats, located at 1201 Valley View Ave has been ruled accidental.
Surveillance video shows the fire started from a heat source coming from the exterior of the building. The fire was not suspicious in nature.
Wheeling firefighters were called the scene of a structure fire just after 5 a.m. Sunday at the corner of Washington Avenue and Valley View Avenue in the Pleasanton neighborhood of Wheeling.
When firefighters arrived on scene, there was heavy fire coming from the rear of the structure and the roof area. The building housed the neighborhood eatery “Avenue Eats” and residential apartments.
No one was hurt and the building is a complete loss.
Based on the initial findings, the fire appears to have started in the rear of the building, however fire investigators have not yet determined a cause and are in the early stages of their investigative work.
This morning, around 4:20 a.m., a fire alarm activation sent Wheeling firefighters to the Booker T. Washington apartments in downtown.
Moments later, a resident of the complex called 9-1-1 to report smoke inside.
When crews arrived, they discovered a fifth floor apartment on fire and with the assistance of police, began evacuating all residents from the building.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire to a single apartment unit and get the situation under control in about 30 minutes. All residents were accounted for and no one was injured.
A fire investigator will work to determine a cause.
Wheeling Firefighters are investigating a fatal fire that occurred late Tuesday evening. Shortly after 9 p.m., firefighters were called to 4224 Jacob Street in South Wheeling after a passerby called 911 to report a house fire.
When crews arrived, heavy fire could be seen coming from the first floor accompanied by thick smoke. Firefighters battled the fire for more than an hour before getting it under control and extinguished.
Two adults were found inside the house deceased. Both will be sent to the state medical examiners office in Charleston, W.Va. for positive identification and to determine a cause of death. WFD’s Bureau of Fire Investigations will work to determine a cause and find the origin of the fire.
The Wheeling Fire Department’s Bureau of Fire Prevention invites the public to take part in National Fire Prevention Week – set for October 4-10, 2020.
This year’s national theme is “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen” and is centered around cooking safety. The campaign works to educate people about the small but important actions they can take to keep themselves safe of injury in the kitchen.
“More people are staying in and cooking from home more because of the on-going pandemic. This year’s theme is a perfect opportunity to focus on the kitchen and the fire hazards that exist with cooking,” said Assistant Wheeling Fire Chief Deric Jamison. “Unattended cooking and not paying attention to what’s happening on the stove is the leading cause of fires in the kitchen.”
One in five home fires start in the kitchen. WFD wants to remind the public of three key safety measures to take if you experience a kitchen fire.
Additionally, burns are very common in the kitchen. Always use oven mitts when handling hot food on the stove or in the oven.
National Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the “Great Chicago Fire” of Oct. 8-10, 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.
Due to COVID-19, the fire department will not be conducting any tours of its fire safety house or hold open houses at its fire stations as in year’s past. However, informational public meet and greets at the Mount deChantal Kroger and the Elm Grove Reisbeck’s will take place this week with outdoor socially distanced measurements in place.
WFD also reminds everyone to change the batteries in their smoke alarms twice a year – most notably when we change the clocks for “Fall Back” and “Spring Forward.” Fall Back 2020 is 2 a.m., Sunday, Nov. 1.