Bell County Fire Department files suit against Judge-Executive

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

BELL COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - The Bell County Volunteer Fire Department is suing the Judge-Executive for half a million dollars.

This comes after the BCVFD closed stations due to an alleged lack of funds.

The Arjay, Colmar, Brownies Creek, and Clear Creek stations are closed. The BCVFD said in June the Calloway station was also expected to close this year. Firefighters say they do not have enough money to run them.

"Judge-Executive Albey Brock continues to accumulate a significant amount of money in fire protection fund. That money is supposed to go to the Bell County Volunteer Fire Department, but he's been withholding it," said Mark Hayden, attorney for the fire department.

County officials say they are withholding the money until the fire stations are open.

"We're more than happy; we know we have a responsibility to support fire service, and we have repeatedly time and time again offered to pay all costs associated with the Bell County Volunteer Fire Department but demand there be accountability with that," said Brock.

Now the Fire Department has filed a counter-suit against Judge-Executive Albey Brock, accusing him of breaking the fire protection agreement for funds set in 1979. The suit claims Brock breached the agreement by not providing adequate financial support to the BCVFD.

"The residents of Bell County continue to get taxed under this insurance premium. That money is supposed to go to fire protection in Bell County," said Hayden.

The suit asks for $500,000.

Hayden, the BCVFD attorney, says if the fire department does not receive enough funds to operate, then the BCVFD will sell assets. The fire department is advertising in the Middlesboro Daily News it is accepting bids on the Colmar, Calloway, and Brownie's Creek stations.

"The Volunteer Fire Department knows no bounds in what it is willing to do to slap the taxpayer in the face. We will be taking action. Unfortunately, we're forced to take action to stop this process," said Brock.

"I think it's a travesty for Bell County. I think it's ridiculous the money sits in a fire protection fund that's not being used. As a result, we're forced to close more fire stations," said Hayden.

Both sides say they will continue to fight this in federal court.

A court date is not set yet for the suit against Judge-Executive Albey Brock.

The two sides are still waiting on the federal judge's decision about the county's suit on whether the fire department can close the stations.
Attorneys say the two sides were unsuccessful in mediation regarding the issue.

The BCVFD is still providing fire protection service in the county. Officials say they are just using fewer stations.

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