The first two years of transition from an all-volunteer fire and EMS system to a mixed career and volunteer department have not been easy.
There have been more than a few heated arguments during joint meetings with volunteer and career staff since the county instituted the combined department in December 2010.
But volunteer and career fire and EMS members say they continue to make progress as a department.
During a December 17 Louisa County Board of Supervisors meeting, Fire and EMS Chief Keith Greene said the county has reduced response times by an average of five minutes in the past two years and by an average of 15 minutes when compared to 2008.
He said the combined department’s new procurement process has helped reduce expenditures by more than $329,000 in fiscal year 2012.
Greene said there has also been an increase in volunteers.
During the December board meeting, Holly Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Marty Hart introduced more than a dozen such volunteers to supervisors on the second anniversary of the county ordinance that formed the combined department.
Hart said that the volunteers were “alive and well,” adding that a national study found that each volunteer saves localities $45,000 in public safety costs each year.
Funding has been a source of contention for volunteers, who received thousands of dollars in pass-through funding from the state each year.
Procurement procedures now require volunteer rescue squads and fire departments to make funding requests directly to the county before receiving any state pass-through funds.
Trevilians Volunteer Fire Department Chief Bradley Melson said the process is a good thing.
“It keeps people from stealing money,” he said.
To read the entire story, see the Jan. 3 edition of The Central Virginian.