nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
      Subscribe | Special Sections


Local News arrow Alex Bridges arrow Shenandoah County

| 0

Chief reacts to fire study


Yew says study got some things right, some not

By Alex Bridges

Shenandoah County's fire and rescue chief says a study of his department raised valid points in some areas but missed the mark in others.

The idea of the study came up last year as county leaders looked at staffing issues for the department and at volunteer stations. But the report, performed for free by the Virginia Fire Services Board, only briefly touches on staffing and a general remark about how many people fire and rescue services needed, Chief Gary Yew said Wednesday.

"That's one thing that we asked them to do and I noticed that it was somewhat absent in the report," Yew said.

Each year Yew asks the county for funds to hire additional firefighters while following a staffing plan created several years ago. The county doesn't always fulfill his entire request, but the fiscal 2015 budget does include funds, taken from the department's overtime allocation to hire four firefighters. These responders would fill in gaps created when other firefighters can't work. This approach helped the department keep its operational budget at current levels.

Yew said the study team didn't have much time to gather information from the department or volunteer groups.

"Short of this committee spending many weeks in a locality, that's something that's pretty tough for them to do just by being here two or three days."

The study focused on the department's organization, communications, training, budget and administration and delivery of services.

Yew, who sent a memorandum to county officials in March in response to the report, said the study team's recommendation that his department create a strategic plan should be a priority.

"I am somewhat disappointed in the fact that many of their recommendations in the plan have already been implemented to some degree and we continue to work on them," Yew states in the memo.

Those initiatives already underway by the department include succession planning, communications, tactical equality, training scheduling and structuring of its swift water rescue operations.

"Had the committee spent some time with the Association leadership and the [department] senior staff, I believe these efforts would have surfaced in the study," the memo states.

Yew pointed out that the report recommends the county work on improving its ratings by the Insurance Services Office -- a private entity that ranks the fire suppression abilities of communities. The firm uses a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best ranking. He noted the county and incorporated communities have worked for some time to improve the ratings.

Yew said fire and rescue companies in Edinburg, New Market and Woodstock recently improved their ratings, which, he said, can mean lower insurance premiums for homeowners. Work to improve ratings takes not only the effort of the emergency responders but also the town governments to make sure municipal water systems are adequate for firefighting, and the county to maintain the communications center. Yew said providing additional paid firefighters at the stations has also helped improve ratings.

The report also recommends the department enhance its training program. The department has done this jointly with the volunteer companies for the past few years, Yew said. The association works with the department to schedule training sessions.

"Short of the response, [training] is probably the second-most important thing we do," Yew said. "People's lives and livelihood depend on competent people getting to them so training is definitely a priority for us."

The report does contain valuable insight for the county and emergency services, Yew said. The chief said he's already talked about it with Richard Hockman, president of the volunteer fire and rescue association. Yew said Hockman also sees value in the report, particularly the recommendations for the strategic plan, standardization of equipment and centralization of purchasing for fire and rescue services.

Yew said he hopes the county supervisors can discuss the report at a future work session.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com


Keep up to date on local news

Sign up here to receive Northern Virginia Daily news delivered to your email box each morning and when breaking news occurs.

Comments

Comments that are posted represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com. View our comments/submisssions policy. Report abuse by clicking the X next to the comment.














Local News Sections

Affordable Care Act Agency on Aging Agriculture Alex Bridges Apple Blossom Festival Aviation Basye Berryville Boyce Brad Fauber Breaking News Business Charities Civil War Clarification Clarke County Colleges Corrections Courthouse Notes: Permits, Transactions Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Education Edward N. Bell Election 2012 Election 2013 Entertainment Environment Fairs & Festivals Fire & Rescue Fishers Hill Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal George Washington National Forest Guest Column Hard Times Health History Holidays Homes In The Spotlight Jeff Nations Joe Beck Josette Keelor Katie Demeria Kim Walter Ledger Livestock Local Markets Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mount Jackson New Market Page County Pet of the Week Pets & Animals Politics Progress 2013 Progress 2014 Quicksburg Religion Rockingham County RSW Jail Ryan Cornell School News Shenandoah County Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department Star Tannery State Stephens City Steven A. Boyce Strasburg Toms Brook Traffic & Transportation Utilities Valley 911 Warren County Weather West Virginia Winchester Woodstock Year in Review


News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Classifieds
Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Comments/Submissions Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

nvdaily.com
2014 Virginia Press Association Grand Sweepstakes Winner
The Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!


nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com