New Market fire company at odds over license deal

WOODSTOCK – A volunteer fire and rescue squad in Shenandoah County still could lose its state license, contrary to reports last week.

New Market Fire and Rescue Inc. apparently did not agree to relinquish its endangered EMS license and work out a deal to provide the services under the license issued to Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue, County Administrator Mary Beth Price told the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday night.

Price delivered a lengthy, detailed timeline of events from Aug. 11, when the board learned from state officials that the volunteer agency likely would lose its license, until Tuesday morning. In summary, Price said, the emergency medical services license issue among the Office of Emergency Medical Services, Operation Medical Director Dr. Nazir Adam and the volunteer agency remains unresolved, Price said.

The county plans to continue to try to find a mutually agreeable solution, Price said. The county has no plans to change the way it staffs the station with paid responders, she added.

Early last week, county officials and John Blosser, president of the volunteer agency’s board of directors, said the squad planned to relinquish its EMS license. The agency then would agree to have its equipment and personnel included under the county’s EMS license.

Price told the board that at a meeting of the volunteer group’s board on Sunday, Chief Robbie Smith indicated he disagreed with the plan to work under the county’s license. On Monday, Heather Phillips-Greene, an investigator with the Office of Emergency Management, advised Price and Tim Williams, deputy chief of the county fire and rescue department, that the volunteer agency would lose its EMS license unless it submits a new application.

Phillips-Greene indicated that Smith is aware of the requirements and plans to meet with Adam to discuss the agency’s medical direction. Smith also indicated that the organization never agreed to run under the county’s license, Price told the board. Price said she received another email from Smith on Tuesday morning indicating that the volunteer agency never agreed to give up its license nor run under the county’s.

Price stated that a direction and agreement in principle reached last week appears to have not materialized at the request of the New Market Fire and Rescue leadership.

The volunteer agency’s license expires Sept. 11. Adam has indicated he would not renew the license even if the volunteer group complies with a response-data reporting requirement because the agency still suffers from other problems.

No one from New Market Fire and Rescue attended the meeting. In response to a question by Supervisor Cindy Bailey, Price said she had not yet sent the timeline of events leading up to the latest update to the volunteer organization. Price said she provides such information to the board first.

Bailey has criticized the board for not inviting representatives of the agency to the meetings to respond to questions about the situation.

“Once again, we’re not giving them an opportunity to be here, to rebut anything that’s being said, giving them the opportunity to do so by sending this to them and I just hope that the media would do that,” Bailey said.

Chairman David Ferguson said the issue isn’t between the supervisors and the volunteer agency. Rather, the matter involves the volunteer organization, the operational medical director and the state, Ferguson said. The board received a letter from Blosser stating that the volunteer’s board decided to relinquish the agency’s EMS license and run under the county’s license, Ferguson noted.

“Shenandoah County stands willing and able to continue to provide EMS services in New Market,” Ferguson said. “I don’t think that at this point this is an issue that we should take any additional action on.

“I think that New Market Fire and Rescue have to speak among themselves and find out what it is they want to tell this board,” Ferguson added. “As I read this timeline, there seems to be some serious differences of opinions within their own organization that need to be resolved. Not ones that we have created.”

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