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Pittsylvania County News

Posted on: June 23, 2021

Chairman Warren Addresses Fire and Rescue Commission about Cherrypicking Calls and Agency Funding

Robert Warren 3

Bob Warren, Chairman of the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors, provided comments at Tuesday night's meeting of the Fire and Rescue Commission regarding misconceptions about a new agency funding structure and expressed concern about an agency admitting to cherrypicking calls. 

A new funding matrix was implemented for FY 22 that ensures each agency is allocated a portion of county funding based on the number of calls they are dispatched to. Previously, there was no formal matrix that determined how county funds were allocated. 

"This commission and the Board of Supervisors are trying to spend tax dollars in a wise manner and provide them to the agencies on a fair and equitable basis," Warren said. 

Several agencies saw a slight to moderate decline in their funding from FY 21 to FY 22, and Warren explained each of them: 

  • Blairs Fire and Rescue, Ringgold Fire and Rescue, Tunstall Fire and Rescue, Chatham Rescue Squa, and Bachelor's Hall Volunteer Fire Department all saw a slight decline from FY 2021 to FY 2022 under the new structure because of the focus on call volume as the deciding factor. However, collectively these agencies have seen a nearly 50% increase in county funding between FY 2018 and FY 2022. 
  • Mount Cross Volunteer Fire Department, Dry Fork Volunteer Fire Department, Laurel Grove Volunteer Fire Department, and Keeling Volunteer Fire Departments all ceased providing EMS services, which led to a pretty significant cut in their share of county funding. 
  • Conversations with Franklin County regarding funding and services across borders led to a decrease in funding for Cool Branch Volunteer Fire Department and Rescue Squad, since the majority of the calls the agencies run are actually in Franklin County. 

Another matter that Chairman Warren brought before the Commission was a recent instance where an agency admitted to not responding to multiple calls because the caller was a frequent flyer - or a person that calls 911 often. The agency allowed Pittsylvania County Public Safety staff to handle the call instead. 

"That's cherrypicking your calls," Warren said. "That concerns me because time can save lives."

Warren encouraged the Fire and Rescue Commission to look further into the matter, which he said is particularly important because every minute matters in an emergency response. The Fire and Rescue Commission is already doing work to develop ethics standards for volunteers and volunteer agencies, and Warren said this instance is an example of why that's important. 

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