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Bob Warren, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, explains why Pittsylvania County is pushing Franklin County for additional funding for Cool Branch Volunteer Fire and Rescue.
The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors understands that it is the unmatched dedication from our volunteer network that keeps more than 20 fire and rescue agencies operational and available to respond to emergencies in every corner of the county. That is also why we have increased funding for fire and rescue services by 76% over the past two years.
Even with such a big area to cover and so many agencies to support, some of our volunteer departments, such as the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, are located near the border with other localities. In these cases, we routinely cooperate with border counties to ensure that citizens are adequately served. In the case of Penhook, a community comprised of both Pittsylvania and Franklin County citizens, Pittsylvania County has been providing more service to Franklin citizens than its own. Unfortunately, Franklin County has not been paying its fair share for this service. For over a year we have been asking Franklin to provide additional support to the Cool Branch Fire Company and the Cool Branch Rescue Squad.
Roughly two out of every three calls where Cool Branch is the “first due” responder are in Franklin County, yet Pittsylvania County provides more than three times as much annual funding, in addition to insurance and appropriations for the purchase of new equipment. Quite frankly, Franklin is not paying its fair share of protecting the Penhook community.
Negotiations between Pittsylvania County and Franklin County surrounding the funding and coverage of both the Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad have been ongoing for months. During this process, our Board of Supervisors has remained committed to providing excellent service to the entire Penhook community, which both localities have an equal responsibility to protect. The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors is looking for a commonsense arrangement that more equitably distributes the costs associated with keeping both the Cool Branch Fire Department and Rescue Squad running efficiently. It was not until we threatened to discontinue service that Franklin County finally responded to our numerous requests to negotiate a fair arrangement.
Your Board of Supervisors has allowed multiple extensions of its deadline to allow Franklin County leadership additional time to evaluate options and propose a solution. We finally received its proposal this past Sunday, October 18th. Since Franklin has indicated that they do not want to serve the entirely of the Pittsylvania area within the Cool Branch response district, the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors elected to offer three options:
Franklin County has until December 1, 2020 to determine which course of action they would like to take.
The bottom line is that the Board of Supervisors wants this arrangement between Pittsylvania County, Franklin County, and Cool Branch to be equally beneficial for both localities. Even more importantly, Pittsylvania County is committed to providing quality and timely emergency services for the entire Penhook community – regardless of which side of the county line an individual home or business is on.
The Board of Supervisors simply wants to ensure that our volunteer agencies have the resources and support that they need to provide the most effective and timely coverage and emergency services. Our ongoing “Thank a Volunteer, Become a Volunteer” campaign is just one demonstration of this Board’s commitment to empowering the volunteers and agencies that keep our public safety system strong. Our commitment to providing $175,000 of CARES Act money to the Danville Life Saving Crew, which provides emergency services in the southern areas of Pittsylvania County, shows that we are willing to invest in our first responders and our regional partners in the same way that we hope Franklin County will.
—Bob Warren, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors