Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Build a Lee Hill fire station or move forward with constructing a new facility for Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue on Rt. 3?

Supervisor Benjamin Pitts questioned Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Eudailey about why the county’s 5-year Capital Improvements Plan has funding to replace the Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue station on Rt. 3 with a new one in the same vicinity at a cost of $5.4 million, instead of building a station in Lee Hill, where one does not exist.

Pitts said the lack of a station in the Lee Hill area is the primary reason why the new combined fire-rescue station 4 off Falcon Drive is the busiest in the county.

The CIP includes funding to purchase land for a Lee Hill station, but construction would not take place until after July 2014. The replacement station for Chancellor is to be constructed sometime after July 2011 or possibly sooner; possibly later (CIPs never seem to work as planned).

Pitts wondered if it would be a better idea to build a new station where a need exists instead of replacing a station that already exists.

Eudailey said he did not disagree with Pitts’ concern.

Here is the problem: if the CIP is changed to move the Lee Hill station ahead of the replacement station for Chancellor, the county will need to staff that new station.

Chancellor already staffs the Rt. 3 station. When it is replaced, the career members and volunteers who work in that station will just move to the new one.

But if a brand new station is built in Lee Hill, Eudailey said he’d have to hire more career members to staff it. Either that, or the volunteers would have to find a way to staff it, which is unlikely. He’ll probably have to hire new career members just to staff a Lee Hill station during the weekdays.

Eudailey tried in 2008 to hire career members to staff around the clock the new station 10 on Gordon Road, but supervisors turned him down and told him to better use the volunteer resources. That would have been the first station in the county with career members staffing it around the clock, with some volunteers at night.

Chancellor volunteers are staffing station 10 at nights and on weekends.

Will Pitts still push to change the CIP anyway to get a station for the Lee Hill area?


  • LarryG

    I was amused that Mr. Edaily was the one who had to remind Mr. Pitts of the additional staff and operational expenses associated with a new station.

    I think if I had been asking the questions.. I might have wanted to ask a follow-up – how much more would the county have to come up with on an annual basis to fund a new station?

    so.. we’re not comparing apples to apples … because the CIP is just a one-time cost but the additional staffing costs is a permanent increase to the budget.

    I know.. I know.. it’s all Richmond’s fault…. ;-)

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  • bhaas

    ?????You mean to tell me that the follow-up question was not asked by someone? Hmmm, could it be that Mr. Pitts just felt the “need” to say something?

    With the recent “publicity” shed on Fire and Rescue here, I wonder when the BOS is going to get the message that there are huge problems that are “begging” for serious attention?

  • MD

    With the recent events involving this county’s fire and rescue combined system, it would absolulty be foolish and possibly negligent on behalf of the county Board of Supervisors to build a new Lee’s Hill and not staff it 24/7 with career staff. Does the BOS have any clue to how bad staffing levels are on weeknights and weekends. Maybe one huge problem besides the fire and ems commission is that the BOS really have no idea how dysfunctional this sytem is or maybe they do not care about the safety and wellfare of the citizens of this county. I agree that the new station 10 in salem fields should have been 24/7 career as well. I beleive the CVFD Fire Chief Cantillion went on record in 2003 or 2004 and said “chancellor could not staff any additional stations” If searched you could find the minutes to that meeting. Maybe the BOS will wake up when they have to pay out millions of dollars to the Hill familly for the events of February 5, 2010..Just my opinion..

  • MGWORK (Marty)

    Made my comments but the FLS CAPCHA did me in and would not allow me to return to my comments I wanted to spring on you.Isn’t technology great, with its many different thresholds of accountability. Maybe I’ll find my comments hidden away in one of those computer files I thought was lost to my poor keyboard and typing skills. Since the subject is not going to change anytime soon, I’ll wait for its ugly head to rise again

  • LarryG

    since Marty used to live in Lee’s Hill… it would be interesting to see his take on this.

    Does anyone have any idea how much it would cost to staff one of these critters annually?

    has anyone every thought about the concept of service districts?

    one of the things that strikes me about this is the disparity in levels of service .. between rural and more suburban.. and how those costs are allocated to citizens.

    seems like folks who live closer in want higher levels of service and are willing to pay more to get it.

    The recent 24/7 advocacy is a good example of one group of citizens who want (I think) uniform county-wide 24/7 EMS/Fire … but seems like in discussions and MD who commented here.. that is not going to happen without a lot more money for career staffing…

    Has a “number” ever been generated – for per-capita taxes for such a thing?

  • MGWORK (Marty)

    In a manner of speaking, I still live in Lee’s Hill. The Lee’s Hill Community Association, Inc and the Greens’ Townhouse Association, Inc, have yet to sell our house under terms of their Stragesic Litigation Strategy and foreclosure on our house. I’m sure many of our reader recall “The Wall” stories.

    As to building another fire station, my focus is on response times embedded in the County’s rule book and how long it should take to arrive at the scene…any scene where law enforcement, EMTs, Fire and Fire Reccue are needed. Who shows up and what their qualifications are is another matter entirely.

    Supv Pitts is pushing the same agenda as he has always done. He’s rooted in law enforcement and always has been. He would go so far as to separate law enforcement, Fire and Rescue as a separate entity in County government and immune from any budget cuts being found in the total county government population.

    The example I was working on before CAPTCHA cut me off at the knees, started with a hypothetical head-on crash at Rt 2 and Rt 17, one car burning, one person who had yet to be declared dead, 3 very seriously injured and it’s 9pm on a Saturday night. Call into the dispatcher comes in at 9:05pm. Start the clock. How long would it take before law enforcement. EMTs, and Fire and Rescue to arrive at this scene…in Lee’s Hill. I’m gping to guess around 20 minute, but concede Chief Eudaily and the BOS have these numbers. as well as the per-capita taxes need to be generated to construct a new station in Lee’s Hill and renovate Chancellor. Both are already on the drawing board.

    Let me turn around for just a moment.

    Who shows at the scene of this collision? Volunteers, certified EMTs, AND career emergency personnel?

    The car on fire has yet to explode. How long before it does and who’s going to put out the fire. How many ambulances at the scene to carry off the 3 very serious injuries…to where and how long will it take to get there. The clock is still running. The fire is out, 3 very serious injuries are being transported and clean-up is just about to start.

    Based on Lee’s Hill’s intentions the district is planning for high density populations. A Train Station is expected at Summit Crossing, as well as Tricord’s development agendas, Cosner’s redevelopment plans for the Rt 17 corridor, and Silver’s 3% Bond money that the County put up for a bridge over Rt 95, to access Cosners/Silvers Hospitsl, County/VRE train station and all points leading east to the Virginia coast.

    With all the trucking commerse that will be using the Rt 17
    corridor one might think the trucking might want to contribute more to the development and maintenance of these road networks that inure to there benefit and bottom lines. Saving time and making money should be worth something to the County’s coffers.

    Bond money is still left over from the last time the County chose to underwrite county development and construction communities. Simply said, Lee’s Hill will necessarily get their fire station and Chancellor it shot in the arm.

    The real hard part of this equation is who’s going to man and support reasonable levels of qualified people at these stations. Once the politics of saving lives in Spotsy is over, maybe we can start stacking up all those lives lost and will continue to be lost as leverage against those who have their heads buried in the sand.

    Larry, we already have service/taxing districts. Cosner East and Cosner West come to mind. The RESOLUTIONS read commerce will be responsible for additional taxes, but there is wording the County can use to include property owners as well, should the need arise. With ADRs in the mix and already identified by the Planning Commision and BOS, it shouldn’t be too much longer before “per-capita” measurements will be nothing more than a warning sign that the glaa is not only full but overflowing.

  • bhaas

    Good to see Marty is back in action. Have seen a number of his posts lately. Welcome back friend.

    This whole Fire/Rescue thing is a h*** of a mess IMHO. Somebody…Eudailey, Barnes, the BOS…needs to take charge and straighten this thing out once and for all.

  • LarryG

    ditto: re: service districts… the Cosner’s corner districts are for infrastructure as opposed to operational expenses.

    but there are such a thing as residential service districts for those neighborhoods who want to put their money where their mouth is and not wait for the rest of the taxpayers in the county to cough up the money for Lee’s Hill.

    I’m not suggesting one way or the other – just pointing out that it is an option – and not a particularly unusual one in many areas of the country.

    It’s interesting listening to various folks talk about what kind of response time they think they are entitled to.

    I’ll be honest – I don’t know what running area I am in nor do I know what the response time is nor how it compares to other districts in the county nor what a good, bad, mediocre, state standard is. I also don’t know whether or not the stations that serve us are 24hr staffed nor what percentage of the staff is career or volunteer.

    I suspect that as ignorant as I am .. that I’m not alone…

    but we do know for sure that if Mr. Barnes intended to fund a Lee HIll station – the staffing costs would have had to be in his proposed budget – right?

  • therestofthestory

    Solution. Volunteers man only two stations and on weekends only. One for the Spotys volunteers and one for Chancellor. Everything else is career staff. Whatever the cost Barnes puts forth the suggestions and the BOS finds the political will. One possible source is to use ALL of the funds captured by charging for ambulance service.

  • MGWORK (Marty)

    Thanks Bill. Think of me as having never left Spotsy.

    Larry: Response times and per-capita accountability in the arenas of lawenforcement, EMTs, Fire and Rescue are only important to those inside a burning house/building or slumpted over the wheel of a car and can’t yell for help because of the fumes, a punctured lung or an inflating airbag that took their breathe away. If saving lives is just a number, percentage or how many broken eggs there are in a total year end tally of injured or dead, why should anyone care about response times? Chief Eudaily knows how long it would take to get to the accident scene I’ve described from CURRENT and established resources in the county. The longer it takes to pick up and deliver 3 very seriously injured person’s to a hospital could be all the difference between adding two more deaths to the talley mentioned in my prior blog.

    I know. I’m just being selfish by putting myself behind the wheel of that car and wondering how loud I could have yelled for help, BEFORE the accodent ever took place.

  • LarryG

    re: Spotsylvania County Response Times … Take a map of Spotsy. Mark 10, 20 uniformally separated geographic locations and then and then for each, provide the response time data.

    My point here is that in a perfect world – we’d have uniform county-wide response times so that no matter where your punctured lung takes place, that you will be treated equally in terms of help.

    Messrs. Marshall and Waddy will make clear that a Berkeley or Livingston district constituent with said punctured lung deserves equal treatment in terms of response time, right?

    unless of course, one might consider a death of someone living in Berkeley district not as tragic as one who lives in Lee’s Hill.

    We could continue to deal with the issue piecemeal or we could look at response times county wide and prioritize starting with the worst ???

    that’s a question.

    should we be looking at this kind of thing as a county-wide operation or should we be looking at it with some other criteria?

    24/7 … top-notch response time for each person no matter where they live or not?

    I thought.. silly me.. that when we went to charging for ambulances that – we’d be using that money in a more holistic approach towards better/improved service county wide.

    now don’t confuse population density here… it’s part of the equation but I’m betting right now that very few folks could produce a ranked list of the top 10 response times in the county (or worse 10 or pick your metric).

    Like so many other things here.. we often argue from perceptions and subjective opinions rather than more substantiative things.. like facts.

    so.. how does response time for the Lee Hll district right now compare to response time for Chancellor District and how do those two areas compare to other geographic locations within the county?

    Just one more thing… response time is but one important metric – the skill and experience and performance of who shows up – even if they do so lickety-split is also important as we have seen.

    sorry to blather on here.. I just wish we’d work off of facts more often – that we’d WANT to work off of facts – that we’d WANT those facts BEFORE we formulate an opinion.

  • MD

    You all have good ideas and a lot of questions that should be anwsered. Response times play a significant role in the Fire and Rescue business. Especially in the setting of acute strokes, sudden cardiac arrests, fires in occupied dwellings and severe motor vehicle accidents. All of these incidents happen almost daily in this County.

    Every Fire and Rescue system prides themselves on quick response times with appropiate apparatus both Fire and EMS, EMT’s,certified paramedics and experienced Firefighter’s and Fire Officer’s. Of course the more rural area’s of the County are going to have a slightly higher response times due to distances traveled. The rural stations, mostly unmanned in the late evenings have a significant longer response time due to volunteer members that have to go to the station to get apparatus from home.

    If these stations had 24/7 staffing the personnel would be in the stations and ready to respond immediatley.

    So… back to the punctured lung patient or the serious car crash victum. This is where the second part of a really good Fire and EMS will shine. The level of care that EMS providers are able to give the patients in the field. So, do you want a Basic EMT to show up and take your blood pressure, pulse and give you some oxygen to comfort you in hopes you make it the hospital alive? Or would you like to have a Paramedic that can do all of that, the basic guy can do, plus start IV’s, place a breathing tube, place you on a ventilator, temporarily fix your punctured lung, monitor your heart rhythm, pulse oximetry, co2,and administer life saving medications?

    If I were the patient and I was paying for the ambulance ride, or not paying I would want the Paramedic to show up and transport me to the hospital and do all that was possible to help me.

    This is why the general public needs to understand the difference between having 10 stations staffed with Advanced Life Support Medic Units Monday-Friday,and then settling for Basic Life Support Ambulances staffed weeknights and most weekends. That represents a large disparity in service levels and should be addressed.

    I would have to agree with “therestofthestory” and say that the volunteers are still needed in this combined system, but lets consolidate the equipment and personnel resources and have them work out of two or three stations in the County “preferrably the busier one’s” and place 24/7 career coverage in rural stations and sorrounding the two or three volunteer stations. The volunteer’s would be responsible for staffing those stations 24/7, and when coverage started to lapse fill the voids with career staff.

    Also there would have to be a standard set of operating guidelines followed by both the volunteer and career personnel while on duty. Training standards would also have to be in place to prevent the 6 month old Firefighter from playing officer and driving firetrucks. Restructure of all current resources would benefit this County as it continues to grow and develope.

    Placing a station in the Lee’s Hill area should be a priority with the increasing industry, future VRE station, ethonal plant and extended response times to the Rt.2 and Rt. 17 intersection. Just some food for thought…

  • LarryG

    good… informing … comments… that I appreciate. I can see where for roads – we prioritize according to the intensity of use and thus rural areas would not expect the same level of service but with fire and rescue – and especially if people are paying for their ambulance rides – I’d have more questions, mostly to relieve my own ignorance because I’m sure that there are issues not well understand by average schmucks like myself.

    but.. I would hope that if that Lee Hill guy is headed to Lake Anna and suffers a punctured lung that he not die because of too much disparity in service levels.

    I equate this to schools. We work hard and expensively to make sure every kid – no matter where they live -geographically has access to an equivalent education.

    This is one of the fundamental reasons for government IMHO.

    I would, unless talked out of it, believe tha access to life saving help would be similar if you’re going to have a government that collects taxes from everyone and charges for services.

    At the least – I would think citizens would be entitled to know about the disparities – full disclosure – AND how much it would cost to deploy a more uniform county-wide system – and let them vote on it via referenda if the cost is significant as I’m sure it will be.

    One more question – with volunteers in the rural areas. If a volunteer is “staffing” – then why not have the vehicle where they are – much like we’d have a deputy with his car – able to deploy if needed or even a school bus driver who parks their bus at their home and begins their route each day from their home?

    so my final suggestion. The county instituted a few years ago a suggestion (requirement?) that developers hold community meetings so that citizens would have the opportunity to learn more about a project – and ask questions -and get answers and give feedback.

    I think that’s a good thing for the fire and rescue folks to consider.. get out and meet with the communities, explain the physical and fiscal issues and basically hear from citizens as to what they think.

    that’s good government … IMHO….

  • do_what

    Someone asked the question earlier about the cost to staff a new station 24/7 with career personnel. The cost would be in the area of 1.2 million, which is about one penny on the real estate tax.

    Here’s some more food for thought. There is roughly 8 million left in the bonds that were approved in 2001. If the county is frugal in the design and construction of the facilities, both the replacement Chancellor station and the new Lee Hill station could be built for that amount of money. There is no need to build the exorbitant facilities such as those at the Courthouse and on Falcon Drive. The excess in those two stations alone could have built at least one additional fire station.

    Now, I’m sure the question will be raised about funding for new equipment at the Lee Hill station. Well that’s another area the county could save greatly. The county has a surplus of fire and rescue vehicles in excellent condition that could be transferred to the new station and serve for several years without needing to be replaced.

    These ideas are not farfetched. However, someone needs to take control of the fire and rescue departments to make them happen. As long as the Fire & EMS Commission is allowed to reign supreme nothing will ever be accomplished and taxpayer dollars will continue to be wasted.

  • LarryG

    1.2 million per year per 24/7 staffed station. thanks for the number.

    if such a station served 10,000 people ( a total guess), then the cost per person would be roughly $120 per person or about $300 a year for a family of 2.5 people.

    If you turned each geographic station area into a service district and then have the county fund 2/3 of the staffing and let the folks in the service area decide what kind of staffing they want for the last 1/3 and if they’d rather pay for career staff instead of volunteers.

    In this way – each community around the station – has a vested interest in the funding and operation of that station while the county assists with it’s role of basic funding and the implementation of uniform standards for operation, performance and training.

    If the good folks of Lee Hill want 24/7 career staffing and they are willing to pay for it – then let them. If the good folks of Chancellor or Livingston or Berkley want to pay less but make up the difference with “volunteer” equity then let them have that choice.

    what’s the downside of an approach like this?

  • David

    In a perfect world maybe, the geographically closest station would be available and in service when a critical event takes place. In the real world, it’s just not so. Each F/R station in Spotsylvania staffs 1 ambulance and 1 fire apparatus at a time. This is true for both career and volunteer agencies. There’s no such thing as a guaranteed response time for a service, unless you plan to staff 1 ambulance and engine per household in every first due area. It doesn’t really matter how much money your “service district” puts into building and staffing a station, if that ALS unit is busy transporting the “abdominal pain” from two blocks over, then your 911 call is going to be serviced by the next due unit, which in the case of Lee’s Hill South, or the 2/17 interchange, would be Station 8 at Thornburg. If that unit is also on a call, then it falls to the third due, and so on.

  • LarryG

    true.. but over time.. there is a record of average/median response times and whether the response was primary or secondary, etc.

    These stats, IMHO ought to help us better understand the disparities and help formulate a policy – the goal of which – might be to provide – if not a county-wide uniform standard – a DEFINED level of service AND a way for the served community to improve it – with additional taxes if that is their wish.

    I think having people who are served – in closer contact with the folks who provide the services – gives everyone a level of ownership – and a different expectation than always expecting the county govt (and all taxpayers) to “give” them something they want.

    This way – the folks who are expecting more – get to also be part of the cost decisions…not unlike when the county offers to cost-share for unpaved subdivision roads.

    If the folks who live there really want it – then they’ll be willing to cost-share. If they don’t then get on the list and wait and you did make your choice.

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