Neighbors Ask Board for Paid Staff at Churchville Volunteer Fire Department

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

A man who said he lost everything in a Saturday night fire wants more staff at the Churchville Volunteer Fire Department.

Other neighbors said they are also concerned and hope this helps prevent any tragedies.

Hansford Johnson wants something to be done about the department's response time.

"There's no reason Churchville could've been there. I mean they're talking about eighty to ninety members. I lost my place. I lost everything because of that station," Johnson said.

On Saturday, his garage caught fire, after changing a fuel pump on his truck.

"I can look at my side window and look at the station. But yet Staunton was the first fire station that got to the location. Eight minutes, they were in my door," Johnson said.

Churchville Fire Department President-elect Kristy McComas said they have a 95 percent response rate.

"It's a rare occasion that we don't get to any call of ours in a six minute period of responding and of course amount of time that takes to get to the call," McComas said.

A report from Augusta County Fire Chief Carson Holloway shows that from January to October of 2012, Churchville took 439 calls.

Twenty-three calls were handed to other agencies. That is 5.2 percent of the department's calls.

Churchville Fire Department Chief Craig Williams said they have 112 volunteers.

Forty-five are certified firefighters but only 12 are certified to operate the truck.

Steve Morris who also lives in Churchville says the only solution is 24/7 paid staff.

"If they have all these members and volunteers, then they need a duty crew to guarantee that a piece of equipment is gonna get out this building any hour of the night," Morris said.

Supervisor David Beyeler said he doesn't want the county to take over another fire department, like what happened in Fishersville.

However, supervisor Tracy Pyles said he can't believe the board is questioning volunteers.

"We gotta be given them medals and here we are criticizing them right and left," he said.

Morris said he will start a petition to send to the board to ask for paid staff.

The Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff Moore said the county has many needs.

He said they want to help the fire department as much as they can but the board is under a tight budget.


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