Deputy Fire Chief Will Lose Job Due to Budget

By: Elizabeth Lamb Email
By: Elizabeth Lamb Email

AUGUSTA COUNTY -- The Augusta County fire and rescue team is restructuring and that put the county's deputy fire chief out of a job.

Administrators cut the deputy fire chief position last week. The man who is out of a job hopes county leadership will keep people who live there safe, despite the changes.

Deputy Fire Chief Mike Armstrong has worked in the county for a year. He will leave his position next Friday after the county board cut it out of its proposed budget.

“I think the leadership in the county is going to have to take a hard look at how they do business. What is their vision for the county? If you want the best schools, the best law enforcement organizations, the best fire-rescue, things like that, these services and these organizations cost money, and that money has to come from somewhere,” said Armstrong.

Armstrong manages the county's team of firefighters, works with state agencies and hired the county's 21 newest firefighters. He said cuts might keep people from joining the county team.

“It's going to be hard to attract those folks when they don't know how stable that organization is. So, when the call comes in a 2 a.m., the citizens want to make sure that there's someone who is going to answer that call. The leadership in the county is going to have to figure out how they're going to accomplish that.”

County supervisors said the deputy chief position would be cut into two jobs: an administrative one and a second which would work more closely with the chief and firefighters.

Supervisor Tracy Pyles, Jr. said he hopes the plan works.

“For where we are now and how we want to proceed, we tried one way, and it didn't work as well as we liked. We're going to try this, and we hope for the best on it,” said Pyles.

Armstrong hopes the county's safety team isn't compromised any more.

“Now that we're losing positions, we want to continue to provide the best service to the public that we can, but we'll do it with fewer personnel,” said Armstrong.

A WHSV reporter spoke with every member of the board of supervisors. They all said they support eliminating the position to balance the budget. They agree it's what's best for the fire-rescue department.

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