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Pittsylvania County News

Posted on: May 5, 2021

Fire and Rescue Commission Continuing to Make Progress

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The Pittsylvania County Fire and Rescue Commission continues to make progress in advancing the coordination and efficiency of fire and rescue operations. During its meeting at the end of April, the Commission made some important recommendations and progress.  

Approving FY 2022 Agency Funding  

The Fire and Rescue Commission unanimously recommended approval of the FY 2022 funding plan, which dictates the amount allocated to each agency from the Board of Supervisors as part of its $1,097,500 in volunteer agency contributions. While eleven agencies will receive reductions ranging from $143 to $16,924, another 12 Departments will see increasesFunding changes are largely based upon increases or reductions in call volume. The plan allocates $11,550 more than in FY21 for volunteer agency funding. 

“The Fire and Rescue Commission is working hard to enhance public safety across our county by improving efficiency and helping our different organizations collaborate and work together,” said Bryan Fox, Chairman of the Fire and Rescue Commission. “Shifting our funding structure so that it is based on call volume instead of previous spending is a great way to more efficiently distribute taxpayer dollars.” 

This recommendation for allocations will be passed on to the Board of Supervisors at their next meeting.  

As a result of the fundamental shift of the formula, some agencies - like Mt. Hermon Fire and Rescue, Brosville Fire and Rescue, and Cascade Fire and Rescue - saw substantial increases in their annual funding. For instance, Mt. Hermon's annual funding jumped by $24,801 to a total of $83,000; Mt. Hermon was responding to a lot of calls, but hadn’t received proportionate county funding 

The new appropriations will be effective with the FY 2022 budget, which begins on July 1. The Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors has increased volunteer fire and rescue funding by more than 76% over the past four years. Some of this money goes to the general operating budgets of each - which is the $1,097,500 that is being split between these agencies - while another portion goes toward apparatus purchases.  

Continuing Discussion on Apparatus Replacement Schedule 

The Fire and Rescue Commission continued fruitful discussions regarding an apparatus replacement schedule. The framework of this schedule - which includes separate processes for fire trucks and ambulances - has essentially been approved, but the issue was tabled to Tuesday to provide additional time to determine the exact protocols for money that is not used in a given year.  

"We are excited about the way that this apparatus replacement schedule, once formally approved by the Fire and Rescue Commission and Board of Supervisors at their upcoming meetings, will guide equitable, need-based purchases of equipment for our volunteer fire and rescue agencies," said Ron Scearce, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Supervisors and Board Representative on the Fire and Rescue Commission.  

Under this proposal, new fire trucks would be purchased on an annual basis, with two departments receiving funding every year. If a department came due for funding but didn’t have enough of their own capital to make the purchase they could push the purchase back a year without losing their spot in the queue. According to the schedule, Mt. Hermon and Climax would both be scheduled to receive funding for a fire truck in fiscal year 2023 since neither had received funding in over 10 years.  

For ambulances, purchases are based on a points system, which factors in things like engine hours, age, and number of calls annually 

"Some agencies may have a high call volume and a really short transport distance. Some agencies have very few calls but a long transport distance,” said Chris SlempPittsylvania County Public Safety Director. "We tried to do something that would be fair and equitable." 

These proposed replacement and funding schedules were guided by factors such as current inventory of every department, call data, and previous funding. A motion passed at the April Board of Supervisors meeting requires that all future apparatus purchases are to follow the replacement schedule.  

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