Two fire departments in Harlan County could close

By: Jordan Vilines Email
By: Jordan Vilines Email

The future of two Harlan County volunteer fire departments is up in the air.

The two departments have lost recognition from the state, meaning they are no longer covered by insurance and worker's compensation.

Talk is circulating in Harlan County about the possible closing of the Upper and Lower Clover Fork fire departments, which is concerning people who live in that area and officials.

County officials say the Upper Clover Fork fire department may close permanently, simply because they cannot get enough volunteers.

Some say it's unrealistic to ask people to volunteer.

"The day of volunteering is just about gone. people just don't want to do that anymore. because of economic reasons, it takes a lot of time away from family." David McGill, the Evarts Fire Chief, said.

But permanently closing the fire departments may be more serious than just dollars and cents.

If the two fire departments were to shut down, residents would have to call fire stations 15 to 20 miles away.

By the time that fire station arrived, the damage could be disastrous and even deadly.

"When a fire takes place, you're not only trying to save the structure engulfed in flames, but the structures around it, so we're really concerned about that." Harlan County Judge Executive Joe Grieshop said.

Grieshop says the Lower Clover Fork fire department has a better chance of staying open, because its problems deal more with miscommunication than having enough volunteers.

Grieshop encourages members of the community to step up and help, for their own safety and well being.

If both fire departments go under, the Harlan, Evarts and Sunshine volunteer fire departments will cover more than 16-hundred structures once covered by the two departments in jeopardy.

A meeting will be held Thursday night at the Closplint Church of God to discuss the future of the Upper Clover Fork fire department.

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