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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Moving forward with the fire and rescue system

All investigations of the fatal house fire on Feb. 5 in which Sandy Hill died are over.

As the external review task force noted, now county officials need to move forward and develop procedures and time lines of how they will implement any changes.

The external task force validated everything in the internal investigation of this fire and provided additional information to lead the combined system in a direction of improvement.

This also marked the third time in which fire and rescue matters related to the Feb. 5 fire were discussed at a Board of Supervisors meeting without it being on the agenda.

At the Fire and Rescue Commission, members tediously went through each of the 34 standard operating procedures and approved most of them.

However, the fire and rescue system still is not operating under one set of SOPs, according to several personnel at the meeting. For example, the career personnel are held to a different standard when they make errors, do not follow SOPs or are late to a shift. The commission did not address any SOPs for human resource issues and discipline.

Fire and Rescue Chief Chris Eudailey, who was able to attend the meeting, said that this is a “starting point” to this process. Eudailey, like myself, was unable to be at two places at once, so he was not present at the BOS meeting when the external task force review was handed to supervisors.

The new 10-member commission is expected to be impaneled by the July 14 commission meeting. At least one of those new members, Rev. Bell, was in attendance and stayed for the entire meeting.

Permalink: http://news.fredericksburg.com/spotsygovt/2010/06/22/moving-forward-with-the-fire-and-rescue-system/

  • ramshead89

    spotsylvania is developing, to think 15 years ago there were 6 stations in spotsylvania county, station 6 was behind the mall which has developed a lot. Those days chancellor volunteer fire department was staffed for 4 hours, 3 or 4 nights a week. and frederericksburg volunteer rescue squad provided the ambulance for SPOTSYLVANIA! ha, how times have changed. we’ve developed a lot and a lot of pressure is on volunteers to keep up the demand. The problem is we have to be able to put up the money if we want to keep the staffing. For years the county was at the mercy of the volunteer department because they needed some sort of response if there was an emergency, you dont see a person who gets paid to staff the county in the day waking up in the middle of the night to respond to an emergency. they spend all day doing it, why would they want to do it at night. the volunteers have a lot of pull because they want to be there, they want to respond and help people with no compensation. the county needs to be more accountable for public safety and they need to commit the money to keep up with the demand. If not people need to stop complaining that there are people who are doing the best they can in their spare time to help people in an emergency. the county has failed to keep up with the demand, now that they are having more leverage they need to change the system. putting everyone under the same guidelines is a start, now lets look at changing the good old boy system. the career system is still filled with flaws, the union is being very progressive, but when the county fails to listen to them we stay underdeveloped. volunteer or career isnt the problem here, the problem is we have failed to adapt to meet the demand, lets not go the way of crystler or GM lets get progressive and change!

  • Sam

    ramshead89,

    Well said.

  • bhaas

    ramshead89

    Sam is right on….well said, indeed.

  • Dan Telvock

    Ramshead

    You sound like a person with a lot of knowledge of the county’s F-R system.

    Are you basically saying that the county government has lagged in funding and the system has suffered because of it?

    I’ve reported here for 4 years and I have never heard a volunteer official tell supervisors this during a meeting. Has anyone thought of telling them what the system needs? Union President Jason Irby has been doing this, and I am hearing that the county board is going to fund those 12 positions that are vacant.

    Supervisors have always said to me that they cannot help if they don’t hear from those involved about what is needed. If everyone remains silent and hopes for the best, then it may not come.

    That’s just my experience as a reporter and what I have heard time after time.

    Can you provide more information on what exactly is needed?

    What if the volunteer system used the $2 million in per diem-revenue recovery funds mostly for training? Would that have a negative impact on the system?

  • http://Z2KS LarryG

    Just to remind folks. The taxpayers in Spotsylvania approved a massive initiative to provide modern facilities and wheeled equipment as well as gear and the BOS approved revenue recovery which has added millions of dollar of additional funding and if I am not mistaken, the BOS also approved taxpayer-funded positions from the General Fund.

    If they need more – then what is it they need more of and whose job is it to report this need to the BOS?

    You know… it’s not like there are no folks in the county that are not advocating for more/better 24/7 coverage to start with.

    So at least some taxpayers have expressed a concern that we do need better coverage and I presume they realize that it will have a cost attached to it.

    so.. I’m having a little bit harder time buying the idea that we have this unrecognized need… or a reluctance of the BOS and citizens to respond to it.

    In fact, more than a few folks have advocated for an all paid/career force… have they not?

    Have we ever seen a number on what an all-career force would cost? (I’m not advocating an all career – but asking the cost).

    Knowing the cost – would certainly give taxpayers some food for thought. eh?

  • spotsyvolunteer

    I am currently a volunteer in Spotsylvania. I agree strongly that we need to come up with a standard set of SOP’s for all of the volunteer and career staff. Yes, one might be getting a paycheck and ther other isn’t but we are responsible for performing the same job. Just because you don’t get a paycheck doesn’t mean that you don’t have to meet the expectations of the community. There are few volunteers that activiliy attend classes in addition to just the basic firefighter 1 and 2 course. A couple volunteers do understand the importance of training and will attend courses in between working a full time job. Yes, it is a big committment but so is the job. If you can’t committ the time to the training then thanks for being willing to help but we have expectations we have to be able to meet for the citiizens. I think the county is on the right track but they need to stick with it. The volunteer officer’s should be held to the same requirements as the career officers. You have the same responsibilities and some people don’t realize the importance of that. Most of the current chiefs and officer’s need to go. They are stuck in the good ol boy system. There are chiefs and officers out there on the volunteer side that do not come anywhere near meeting the requirements of a chief. Someone needs to majorly look into there certifications. Maybe start by making sure the officers’ and chiefs have Firefighter 1?! Doesn’t matter if you joined 10-20 years ago, times change and you need to hold a certification to cover your ass and the counties. The career staff has just as many issues as the volunteers though. They need to get their stuff togethor. Maybe if we get a good new Deputy Chief in he can help. Everyone wants to push for 24/7 career but why don’t we start small. We know there is a financial issue. Start by supplementing the volunteers and staffing a few ALS units which is where the biggest need is. Then build from there. You aren’t going to get anywhere trying to take over all at once. Sorry, but its not going to happen. Have to be smart about it and progressivly make changes. Then learn as you go and adjust as needed.

  • Sam

    spotsyvolunteer,

    It’s fantastic you have confirmed many things I had often figured as the truth anyways. What’s sad is you’re on the inside and can’t effect that change you need. And no that doesn’t mean giving the reigns over to the ‘paid-men’. I have told Dan personally I don’t want the volunteers to go away. I think it’s fantastic you and many other men and women step up and give selflessly.
    But when there’s a problem here in Spotsy, you know it’s hidden,lied about and covered up rather than transparent and dealt with. Issues like that should be seemless across both systems for coexistence and should be SOP #1.
    I agree with you, there are some of the old dead wood that probably don’t even have Firefighter-I but yet are left to command and life saving decisions.
    I disagree, a new Deputy Chief will only be vetted from the current administration and will be told how to behave.
    Thank you for your honesty and your dedication to the citizens and what is the right thing to do.

  • ramshead89

    I started volunteering because I’ve lived here since I was 4, and I wanted to stay out of trouble in my last year in high school so I joined the rescue squad which was less than a mile from my house. Since joining I have always maintained full time student status while working either one or two jobs (depending on how much money I didnt have). I am still a full time student, while I have all the required certifications to become a firefighter/medic in this county and many more I put my education first. I have a lot of problems with the county system, I wish I had time to look into the budget, however still full time student status (including summer classes) and working two jobs I don’t have time. I would hope that after I finish my education in 3-5 years the system will already be changing to a better more efficient system. one where career and volunteers are trained by the same people to the same standards which have been set by one SOG, where BLS patients do not take up more valuable ALS resources. where career and volunteer get along because instead of ego there is the goal of public safety. where the volunteer system maintained its standards that they themselves set instead of granting extensions because they need the help. the volunteers need help, they are doing the best they know how right now and the best they can with what they are given. but try (since its world cup time) taking a bunch of people who have never played soccer, or even seen a soccer ball, and a few have heard of the game and making them a competative team. you have to make them recognize a field, the equipment, teach them how they can and cannot play, then teach fundamentals. After the fundamentals you have to move on to how to adapt to new situations, things that come with years of practice. given a year could you take a group of people between 16 and 50 with no experience and turn them into a team that can even hold their own? and to do it in just your free time. it’s amazing the success we have now as an organization. It’s grown a lot, and will continue to grow, strong opposition is needed to keep it moving in the right direction, so though i hate the problems we face where people want to get rid of volunteers it is needed so that the issue remains we need change. luckily there are people with many more years experience than myself that should be able to come to a resolution

  • http://MAVRICKinc7@msn.com Martin (Marty) Work

    Sounds to me like someone is asking, or should we be demanding, that a return to basics is not without sustainable benefits to the public and all WE have to do is build on that thought.

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