Fire And Rescue Meet With Local Governments

By: Elizabeth Donatelli
By: Elizabeth Donatelli

August 28, 2005

Albemarle County Department of Fire and Rescue co-hosted an event that brought together local government, fire and EMS workers over the weekend. This 2-day conference could be fixing years of problems.

Fires can happen anywhere anytime, which is why nearly 100 people gathered to discuss making fire and rescue services as effective as possible.

"We stop that fire from spreading to save what you have left from the destruction of fire. So with that, why wouldn't an elected official want us to do good," said Fred Windisch Fire Chief Ponderosa, TX Fire Department.

Members of local governments statewide had an open dialogue with fire and rescue employees at the 2nd Annual Virginia Volunteer/Combination Summit.

"65 percent volunteer and 35 percent career in the state of Virginia and of that 65 percent of the volunteer about 5 percent are in a combination system," explained Buddy Hyde, Jr. Executive Director of the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.

Few fire stations are combination stations--made up of both volunteer and career staff--but, the number is growing. Albemarle has several.

"We put career people at a volunteer station. We try to make that a business opportunity for that captain to work well with the volunteer chief and the volunteer members to make that station the most successful station in the county," said Albemarle Fire and Rescue Chief J. Dan Eggleston.

Recruiting and retention is a statewide concern.

"When a volunteer comes into the system. One, he is welcome, two, there is training in a place that's well thought out," said Richard Huff, a Franklin County Administrator.

The summit served as an open dialogue to fix problems and borrow successful programs from other areas.

There were representatives from every region of Virginia and even some from different states at the event.

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