Fire station back on track

Chief pleased by progress at formerly troubled department

By Joe Beck

The bad headlines, internal strife, auditing and criminal investigation that plagued the former Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department have faded in the year since Warren County took over its operations.

Now renamed Warren County Fire and Rescue Station 6, the company’s firefighters and EMTs have answered 380 calls so far this year.

Fire Chief Richard E. Mabie of the Warren County Fire and Rescue Services describes himself as “very pleased” by the company’s progress since the county takeover “but we still have a long way to go.”

Finding enough volunteers for the station at 6363 Howellsville Road has weighed heavily on Mabie since the court-ordered reorganization of the department. The station was staffed 24 hours a day with career firefighters from June 18 through November of 2013. As more volunteers began to fill the ranks, Mabie reduced the career staffing to the current schedule of 5 a.m. until 5 p.m. on weekdays. Volunteers are called on to fill out the remaining shifts.

The 16 volunteers include seven firefighters, four combined firefighters and EMTs, and three in the Warren County Firefighter Academy who are scheduled to graduate in January.

“We’re still not satisfied with just 16 volunteers, even though that’s more than other companies,” Mabie said, adding that the company is planning a new membership campaign.

“We would love to have 30, which would expand our numbers for on duty crews and staff,” Mabie said. “Instead of having three or four on a duty crew, we could have six, which makes it a lot better for us.”

Mabie said the appointment of Lt. Jesse Smith to manage the day-to-day operations of the station helped smooth the station’s reorganization.

“He received the fire chief’s award this year and a lot of it had to do with how he’s managed the station for the last eight to 10 months or so,” Mabie said of Smith.

Mabie said he is also pleased to see improved cooperation with firefighters in Clarke County, which borders Fire Station 6.

“The company is training more with Clarke County, so we’ve built some relationships there,” Mabie said.

Volunteers can choose to be a firefighter, EMT or both. They must be prepared to undergo extensive training, work nights and respond to calls at a moment’s notice. Training and safety and protective clothing are free.

Those interested in joining the company can call 636-3830 or stop by the station on Howellsville Road.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com