PARKERSBURG - A new look to the Parkersburg Fire Department website will allow firefighters to point the public in the right direction and answer lingering questions, Fire Chief Eric Taylor said.
Machine Communications in Parkersburg has been in charge of revamping the city's websites, including the police and fire departments. Taylor said the company began work on the fire department's website around August.
"It's probably been five or six years since we had done anything with (the website)," he said.
A main objective for the site, www.onlyminutesaway.com, was to be more user-friendly. Taylor said he wanted the site to contain contact information as well as frequently asked questions.
The site will contain burning permits as well as where and when residents are allowed to burn materials. He said there will be fire codes, fire safety and general safety information.
"There's a multitude of stuff there," said Taylor. "We can continue to add to it."
The page has been discovered by a teacher in California who wished to use it as a class project. Taylor said he was contacted by the woman and told she was with an elementary school in California.
"She was very thankful," Taylor said of letting the teacher use the website as a class example. "I don't know how she found it."
The website will allow the department to document its history, including significant fires that have taken place, Taylor said. The department will be able to document its staff, including shift supervisors to fire stations and where the stations respond throughout the city.
A list of previous fire chiefs goes back to 1897.
Taylor said he hopes the website will allow firefighters and those in the department to better inform the public of questions they may have.
"My hope is that if my guys are out on a call or even shopping at the grocery, if someone comes up to them and asks them a question they can't immediately answer they can tell them to go to the website," Taylor said.
The site will contain press releases and people can subscribe to receive the posts as a blog, he said. Reports can be filed for arson to the state fire marshal's office.
Details on information about the color guard and explosives canines are a work in progress, he said.
The Parkersburg Fire Department Color Guard was formed in October 2011 to represent the fire department at ceremonies and act as a "goodwill ambassador" for the fire department and the city.
The explosives canine, or "bomb dog", team is responsible for "conducting both live and pre-event explosive sweeps." The benefit is primarily for Wood County, but the canine unit and its handler Mike Beckett have been asked to conduct public safety sweeps in West Virginia and Ohio.