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Fire station to stay under county license

Fortsmouth company struggling to manage emergency operations

By Linwood Outlaw III - loutlaw@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- The Fortsmouth Volunteer Fire Company will continue its emergency medical services under the Warren County Fire and Rescue Department's agency license.

The Board of Supervisors granted the request Aug. 4 after numerous discussions held by officials at the station on Lower Valley Road regarding its struggles to manage its emergency operations.

The fire station has only five active EMS responders, District Chief Larry Cross said. By keeping the station under the county's license, officials can continue to help lighten its workload by performing such duties as checking equipment and record-keeping chores, Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie said.

The South Warren Volunteer Fire Company on Stonewall Jackson Highway recently received approval for a similar request, only that company will not be required to hand over ownership of their apparatus.

"While we will continue to share many of the responsibilities, direct oversight will be under the Department of Fire and Rescue," Mabie told the supervisors in a memo he submitted describing the request. "There are still several other stations that are looking hard at this operation as a method to enhance their own EMS operations. This has been an objective of our department and we are fast approaching 100 percent of that goal."

The North Warren and Linden fire companies also are currently operating under the county's fire and rescue license, Mabie said.

In its comprehensive EMS, fire services and communications study, consultants from Springsted Inc. suggested that county officials consider consolidating the Fortsmouth and Rivermont departments within five years due to Fortsmouth's difficulty obtaining enough volunteers and an apparent need to replace the Rivermont building. Results from Springsted's study were released in June. The Rivermont station on Rivermont Drive, which was built in 1954, has experienced structural problems in the past and is considered too small for current needs.

In another matter, the supervisors agreed to hold a public hearing at today's meeting on a request to change the due date and redefine the license year for vehicle license taxes.

Since the supervisors approved twice-a-year billing for real estate, personal property, machinery and tools taxes at their July meeting, vehicle license payments will need to be billed with the first one-half installment along with the other taxes, County Attorney Blair D. Mitchell said.

Under the new twice-a-year billing format, which goes into effect in 2010, first-half tax bills will be mailed in May and due by June 5. The second billing will be mailed in October and due on Dec. 5. Either a penalty of 10 percent of the tax past due or $10, depending on which is greater, will be applied to overdue bills.

To allow for the vehicle license tax due date to be changed to June 5, the current license year definition must be redefined to run from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 rather than the sixth day of December of one year to the fifth day of December of the next year as it currently reads, Mitchell said.

The vehicle tax will not be billed this December, but will be billed in May 2010 at the full amount, Mitchell explained.

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