Neighbor Asks Board of Supervisors for More Paid Firefighters

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

A Churchville neighbor asked the Augusta County board of supervisors on Tuesday for more paid firefighters in Churchville and the Western part of Augusta County

The supervisors said to increase paid staff, they would have to increase taxes.

According to Morris, he gave the supervisors a petition with 400 signatures.

"It's not equal when Preston Yancey can have 15 people for paid staff for one station and you only have 15 in the whole western area. That's not fair," Morris said.

Chief Carson Holloway said the Western part of the county has 15 paid firefighters. According to Holloway, the Central part has 33 and the Eastern has 24 paid firefighters.

Supervisor Tracey Pyles said to hire paid staff at a single station could cost up to $1 million per year.

He said the stations in the county only get two to four calls per day.

"If we had 15 people sitting at a station, four at a time, all day long and they hardly got out, people would say what are you doing with our money," Pyles said.

New Hope Fire Department lifetime member Tommy Key said he would like to see more paid staff at his station, to cut down on response times.

"If you get a large fire or something like that where you have to depend on people coming from home in an average of six minutes. If your home is on fire you don't wanna wait for someone to get to the station and then six minutes to get to your home," Key said.

He said when the fire plan was released last year, Chief Holloway had promised New Hope to get extra paid positions.

However, when the last draft of the plan came out, the paid positions were added to another station.

Chief Holloway said when he assigned paid staff to volunteer fire departments, he looked into the number of calls each department receives, the coverage area it serves and its distance from other stations.

Supervisor Michael Shull said he thinks the community can keep the volunteer system up and running.

"If the volunteers have fallen off, is up to the citizens in this county," Shull said. "Do they wanna continue the volunteer system or do they want a paid system?"

The supervisors said they are looking at ways the county can improve response times and can make fire departments more efficient.

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