Retired firefighter remembers former fire stations

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PARKERSBURG, W.Va.-(WTAP) A year from now, there will be a new fire station at Emerson and West Virginia Avenues.

Bill Sheff was stationed at the fire house at the same location, that was demolished in December. He was still there when he retired as al lieutenant in 1999.

"I went out to Station #4 and finished out my time," Sheff recalled for us Monday. "But I worked at all the fire stations at different times. I'm one of the last remnants there, because most of the guys I worked with passed away. As a matter of fact, last month, three of them passed away."

He says it is time to replace the aging fire stations. A new Station #2 opened in 2019, and another is due to be replaced in the next couple of years.

Firefighting may never be completely safe, but Sheff believes more modern equipment and techniques have made it safer than it was during most of his years with the fire department.

"You had all the toxic fumes coming off the sofas and carpets and stuff, and that created long-term illnesses, which they have today. But today, they wear an air mask when they have a dumpster fire."

In his 28 years with the Parkersburg Fire Department, Sheff saw a lot of tragic fires. One took the life of one of his fellow firefighters. But those aren't necessarily the things he likes to remember.

For its 100th anniversary in 1997, the fire department published a book on its history. It includes the names of the men who, up to the late 1990's, served on the force.

"So I guess you could say that's my legacy," Sheff says, "as well as the other people that worked there."

And part of the legacy of the original Station #4.