For months, neighbors on the west side of Augusta County have been complaining about the response times of the Churchville Fire Department.
Those complaints got even louder recently after several fires happened in the span of three weeks, one of them killing four people.
On Saturday, County Supervisors wanted to set the record straight. They organized a special meeting in response to a 400 signature petition asking them to place more paid staff in Churchville was delivered to them late last month.
The message being delivered, Churchville isn't doing poorly at all.
For nearly two hours, Supervisors Marshall Pattie and Tracy Pyles, members of Augusta County Fire and Rescue and nearly all members of the Churchville Fire Department came out to respond to the critics who say they aren't doing the best they could be.
Unfortunately, only a handful of concerned neighbors showed up.
"I'm disappointed because had those 400 people been there they would have seen that Churchville Fire and Rescue is doing, overall, a very good job," said Pattie. "They have a 95% response rate, which is excellent. We really have no concerns with them and their performance at this point."
Some of those neighbors that did show up had their own agendas. The room got heated when one man had more of an issue with Churchville's siren than how well they put out fires. He told the crowd he wants to pay to have it moved away from his house.
"It's a tradition, a lot of firehouses across the country still have them, some don't," said Churchville Fire Department President Kristy McComas. "Our company has decided to keep the siren. He's the only neighbor that has ever complained about it to us. I wish we could come to some sort of agreement with him. "
A few in the crowd were at the meeting to hear how their safety is being managed. One man suggested raising taxes to pay for 24 hour staffing.
Churchville is the fourth busiest station in the county. Fire and Rescue Chief Carson Holloway said one thing does need to be changed; there needs to be more drivers and pump operators.
"I think everyone in the department knows that our main goal is to take care of our community," said McComas. "That's what we're supposed to do. We will will make decisions based upon how we do that best."
McComas also said it's not out of the question that Churchville could get some paid staff. Officials will be deciding whether or not to stay a volunteer station over the next few months.
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