BECKLEY, W.Va. (WBOY) — Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill into law on Monday that will grant $4 million to the West Virginia Division of Forestry (WVDOF).
According to a release from the governor’s office, SB 1032 will grant $4 million in state general revenue to the WVDOF in order to purchase new equipment that will be used to fight wildfires. Items such as woodland dozers, new fire engines, water tank trucks, Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) and thermal drones are among the items listed.
Gov. Justice also announced that the WVDOF Region Four office will be renamed to the Cody J. Mullens Region Four Headquarters in honor of the late firefighter of the same name who was killed this past April while fighting a fire near Montgomery.
“This year, we mourned the tragic loss of this brave West Virginian who gave his life to protect our state and her people. Today, we honor his life, his service and his sacrifice,” Gov. Justice said. “This bill will help our brave foresters get the equipment they need to continue to be on the front line of defense, both during spring and fall fire seasons and throughout the year.”
Crews from the WVDOF aren’t just helping out in the Mountain State, but also across the nation. Earlier this month, a crew of 20 WVDOF members traveled to Montana to assist the Northern Rockies Geographic Area Coordinating Centers (GACC) to contain a fire in Montana’s Flathead National Forest that was started by lightning.
“While West Virginia’s fire season will officially begin on October 1, other parts of the country already have a very active season. WV DOF is tasked with preventing and suppressing wildfires within the state; however, during the offseason, our Foresters assist with fire suppression efforts in other parts of the country,” Jones said. “They must attend rigorous training courses and maintain qualifications to be part of a western fire detail.”
To learn more about how the WVDOF protects against wildfires, click here.