MADISON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A fire chief in Boone County faces felony criminal charges in connection with alleged forged documents and conspiracy, according to information from the State Fire Marshal's Office.
The filings charge Ira Rash with forgery of a public record and conspiracy. It claims Rash forged multiple certificates and documents for himself and other members of the Wharton-Barrett Volunteer Fire Department.
The complaints also allege fire Chief Robert Rash knew of the altered documents and signed verifications to the state. The certificates are required by law for fire departments as part of regular reviews of training and equipment.
Chief Rash declined an on camera interview, but did release a brief statement. It says, in part: "I take full responsibility of signing the documents without reading them, and am extremely sorry for the problems I have caused. I've been working at this station since I was 16 and consider the entire community my family. From the bottom of my heart, I am sorry."
In a prepared release, Acting State Fire Marshal Anthony Carrico said, “No person in this office enjoys charging a firefighter with a felony. However, the law requires minimum standards to be met by fire officers and the public expects it.”
Carrico went on to say, "The State Fire Marshal hopes to send a message to the other agencies regulated by the office. All of the fire service community shares the responsibility to keep our communities safe. That begins with obtaining the required minimum training.”