More Paid Firefighters Added to Augusta County Forces

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

The Augusta County of Supervisors approved a new five-year fire plan.

The county will add 21 paid positions for fire departments across the county thanks for a federal grant.

Weyers Cave will have six new positions. Mount Solon will have three.

Augusta County and Preston L. Yancey in Fishersville will increase the number of firefighters to 15.

Craigsville will add three new positions.

Augusta County Fire and Rescue Chief Carson Holloway said it was hard to decide which stations needed the positions the most.

However, he said he worked with what he had. This is the second draft of the plan.

"I do stand by this plan, I think it is fair across the board. It does address many needs countywide," said Holloway to the Augusta County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday.

However, not everyone approved the designation of the new positions.

New Hope Fire Chief Dale Early said with the first proposed plan, they were going to receive three paid staff members.

"With this plan we get no help to better serve our community," he said.

Early said most of his staff who are volunteers can't handle the amount of need in that area.

"We have an 11.4 percent no response rate, which is the highest in the county. Yet we get no staffing," Early said at the meeting.

Augusta County Board of Supervisors Chairman Tracy Pyles said they are hoping that the new positions will help increase emergency response times.

"As we get closer to the public by adding more places we will be better in that life saving procedure," Pyles said.

He said at this point, the needs of the fire department could change.

"It's a never ending process of how we deploy people, of how many people we deploy. What our needs are. Things can happen that can cause us to even increase what we've got or maybe this group will work for a while," Pyles said.

The positions come from a two-year grant.

Pyles says they will have to work to keep the positions.

Without the grant they would be $500,000 in the red.

Meanwhile, Early still thinks his fire department could've had more help.

"While we are committed to operating this station, the people are getting burned out," Early said.

Holloway will also be head of the countywide district to improve insurance ratings.

Right now, each station applies for insurance ratings on its own.

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