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Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Fire and EMS meeting

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The Fire and EMS Commission meets tonight, 7 p.m. at the Holbert Building. The agenda is here.

Fire and Rescue Management Chief Chris Eudailey will present the state review of the department at the meeting. Also, at last night’s Board of Supervisors meeting, the supervisors asked that Eudailey bring their concerns over the committee’s proposed standard operating guidelines. These guidelines are very similar to those already in place for the department. A few reviews in the past year asked the county to create or update a list of standard practices. These reviews came after a fatal fire on Feb. 5. Here is a story which lists some of the recommendations.

A story in today’s paper talks about the supervisors’ concerns with the guidelines. Basically, they wanted the list to include consequences for not following the procedures, a clear chain of command and stronger language.  

After the supervisors finished telling Eudailey their issues about the suggested guidelines, newly elected Chairman Benny Pitts took some time to publicly speak about some other concerns he has with Fire Rescue and Emergency Management. He said that in the past week, he received two calls from residents saying they saw county trucks being used for what seemed to be personal business.

Pitts said one woman called from Outback Steakhouse to tell him that a couple got out of a county truck and eat dinner.

He said, “That foolishness has to stop.”

Pitts then asked that if the personnel wouldn’t stop using the trucks for personal use, could they please at least use Spotsylvania restaurants and stores.

“That’s the least I can ask for,” he said. “I’m tired of getting these complaints about career and/or volunteers using aparatus for personal use.”

He said that although volunteer departments purchase their own equipment, the county pays for the gas.


  • local_guy

    If anyone wants to know why the County’s fire and rescue system is broke, you need to look no further than the Fire and EMS Commission. I hope everyone got to see the meeting tonight. It was comical as usual. Once again, the volunteers have proven they are not willing to play nice and have further delayed positive improvements in the system. If you didn’t see it, I believe they will replay it later in the week.

  • Larry the G

    I too watched the meeting and saw that members of the commission essentially do not want strict operating procedures but, in fact, “guidelines” so they can allow flexibility and discretion.

    Another opined that maybe there was some confusion on the part of the public or BOS between Human Resource “rules” and operational procedures.

    For me, it comes down to this. How do you deal with issues such as “freelancing” ?

    I would think – that only the folks in positions of authority would have flexibility and discretion but the subordinates would, in fact, have to operate according to standard operating procedures and not guidelines and if they thought a non-standard approach was needed – to obtain permission first.

    but did the Commission members actually read the State Report (which echoed the same theme from the 1999 Report)?

    to me – it was almost as if they had not read the report and were establishing a counter position to it and the BOS (and the public) expectations.

    From the Report: ( page 20 ):

    ” Adherence to Established Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

    Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should be established to coordinate service delivery
    throughout the County regardless of fire/rescue company affiliation. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), a standard operating procedure is “an organizational directive that establishes a standard course of action.” Thus, SOPs are written guidelines that explain what is expected and required of fire service personnel in performing their jobs.

    Although a system of SOPs presently exists in Spotsylvania, not all agencies and its members strictly follow these procedures. It is imperative that all members thoroughly understand their responsibilities and expectations.


     With the coordination and collaboration of leadership from all agencies, the County
    should review and update its SOPs.

     Organizational leadership should perform an objective evaluation of internal factors
    affecting the existing SOPs to ensure future compliance.

    ‐ Without proper implementation, the new SOPs may continue to be ineffective,
    unused, or unsafe. Therefore, implementation planning should be a key
    component of the County’s approach to revising its SOPs.

    ‐ The County should increase its education and exposure about these procedures
    to fire and rescue personnel to ensure compliance.

    ‐ Organizations that lack SOPs are increasingly vulnerable to accidents, lawsuits,
    unnecessary costs, personnel problems, and damage to their professional image.

     As part of the implementation process, the County should establish a mechanism to
    monitor job performance and ensure that personnel strictly comply with the new SOPs”

    I’m sorry to say.. what I observed in the meeting was a clear reluctance on the part of some to do this and in fact, some resistance.

    It looks to me that personnel changes are going to be required because this has gone on now for a decade or more and some of the same people are involved and show no more inclination to change than ever.

    Sometimes… when institution itself is moribund and operates as if it is autonomous – it has to be dismantled and rebuilt.

    I’m not advocating that but it’s starting to look like we’re at a brick wall in terms of moving the system to a better place than it is now.

  • bhaas

    What we saw in that meeting and what we have seen for perhaps 10 to 20 years is the result of the Volunteer groups operating in a totally autonomous manner.

    The county government, including the BOS, are going to have to decide if they want a cohesive F&EMS service or if they want to have 3 or 4 autonomous groups handling that service.

    Once that decision is made, the citizens of Spotsylvania may have a decision of their own to make.