Guest Editorial: Fire company needs ambulance/career staff

By Andrew Pullen
Fire Chief, Kents Store Fire Company

The Kents Store Volunteer Fire Company has for several years, formally requested both an ambulance and cross trained career staff at our firehouse, 24/7/365, that can supplement and/or augment our current volunteers.  Our volunteers do a remarkable job and their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed, but they have careers, families, obligations, etc.  A steady increase in responsibility, call volume and training standards has led to a far more demanding environment for an all-volunteer agency – as it should – but we as an organization are not willing to accept those as excuses for inadequate staffing or performance.  There has been a sharp increase in frequency when there are not enough volunteers or enough volunteers with the necessary training needed – this isn’t safe for us and it’s certainly not safe for our community.  We aren’t willing to continue hoping quietly that luck and probability is on our side while the local government administrative bean counters, who have absolutely no documented public safety managerial experience, tells us that we’re either wrong or exaggerating.

These concerns are far from new.  For nearly ten years, we’ve had meetings with Fluvanna County administration and Board of Supervisors, where our fire company requested the Virginia Department of Fire Programs study and has championed the idea of a combination system.  Unfortunately, they have continued to ignore our concerns and on Dec. 21 the Board of Supervisors voted 5-0 to continue with only two ambulances, EMS only personnel, ridiculously confusing job descriptions, no fire chief and a pay scale that is by far, the worst in the region.  Rather than put in the hard work and leadership that is required to provide a tangible solution to a problem that is only getting worse with time, they voted to continue with a model that is already failing to provide adequate service and under circumstances of their own doing, will dramatically complicate the future transition to an actual fire and EMS department.  The BOS literally voted to make an already bad situation untenable and if no action is taken to reverse course, they will deal with these issues in perpetuity at the decision making level while the community suffers the real consequences of their negligence. 

Fire chiefs from across the region agree that this is a terrible decision –  as well as two separate third party studies of our current fire/EMS system. Most importantly, our own volunteers who are actually answering the calls and understand that if we are to truly put the best interest of our community first, a change is necessary.

We’re done hearing that Kents Store doesn’t need the same services that other areas of the county receive or that is not fiscally possible – we don’t have a revenue problem; we have a failure to prioritize problem.  Moreover, the Fluvanna County administration and the Board of Supervisors has been incapable of making proactive and sound decisions, is grossly complacent and unaccountable thus far, leaving no other options but for our organization to report directly to the public.  Additionally, we intend to submit a budget request for part-time firefighters/EMTs to augment our volunteers on days when we anticipate staffing issues.  This is common practice in many localities south of us and accomplishes three goals: it guarantees 24/7 coverage, supports the existing volunteers and is cost effective.  We’ve actually invited board members for more than two years to meet with the other departments that use this type of staffing model, but those invitations seem to have fallen on deaf ears. 

Lastly, we encourage the public to submit FOIA requests for related emails to board members and county staff that will corroborate this statement and we hope that you all will reach out directly to the Board of Supervisor members and tell them your stories of waiting for an ambulance or why your families plan is to drive to a neighboring jurisdiction in the event of an emergency. 

Related Posts

dewi88 cuanslot dragon77 cuan138 enterslots rajacuan megahoki88 ajaib88 warung168 fit188 pusatwin pusatwin slot tambang88 mahkota88 slot99 emas138