Impact of bridge collapse on Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department

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RHODELL, WV (WVNS) — At the end of August, the Rhodell Volunteer Fire Department went out for a routine hydrant inspection. Their last stop of the day brought them to a bridge older than some of the firefighters.

Michael Holshouser, fire and EMS coordinator for the fire department, said at the time, the firefighters did not see any cautionary signage or reason to not drive their mini pump engine over the bride; however on the way back, the bridge collapsed.

“Oh my when I realized what had happened, I’m like, you see those movies where you are teetering on the bridge and you’re like do I get out or do I sit,” Holshouser explained.

Holshouser began working with the fire department 12 years ago. He said he has driven the same truck over the same bridge year after year.

While hindsight is 20/20, Holshouser said this was going to happen eventually. A pre-school bus normally drives over the bridge and he said he is thankful the accident happened when it did.

“And we are glad that it was us. We can take the hit on our equipment you know, and nobody got hurt so as far as people and things go, stuff can be replaced, people can’t and we are lucky that we were all okay,” said Holshouser.

None of the firefighters were injured in the accident, but the undercarriage of their mini pump truck was damaged almost beyond repair. Holshouser said it will cost thousands of dollars to repair the truck, and hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace it. He said not having this truck could become a much bigger problem in certain areas.

“The community is suffering not only with us, because we service a lot of small roads and hollers with small bridges and that is what that truck was intended for, to cross small bridges,” said Holshouser.

The fire department is putting together plans to provide emergency services to areas only accessible by small roads and bridges. Their main focus is repairing or replacing the truck. This could become a lengthy process because they are not the only fire department in the state or even the county dealing with small bridges.

“We are not the only fire department with this problem. There are other departments in Raleigh County that’s looking at buying small trucks and I know one that has a small truck because of these situations. The problem here is the community is gonna suffer. If you are on the other side of that bridge and you have a house fire or a medical emergency, what’re we supposed to do,” said Holshouser.

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