Supervisors will talk future of squad
Published 12:30 pm Wednesday, February 15, 2017
The Lunenburg County Board of Supervisors will meet Thursday with the Kenbridge Emergency Squad (KES) to discuss the organization’s future.
The squad could merge with the Kenbridge Fire Department or Victoria Fire and Rescue, according to discussions.
KES has been struggling to answer calls and operate, according to discussion during the board of supervisors meeting on Feb. 9.
Due to such issues, the Town of Kenbridge advised the Kenbridge Fire Department merge with KES. The Kenbridge Emergency Squad refused, proposing they instead merge with the Victoria Fire and Rescue Squad.
During the Thursday board of supervisors meeting, the board decided to meet with the active members of the emergency squad to talk about both options.
“Our goal is to meet with active members of the (KES) to talk about the proposals on the table, see where the squad stands and see what the final outcome is,” Supervisor Wayne Hoover said.
According to Kenbridge Fire Department Chief Richard W. Harris the fire department, has offered to merge with the emergency squad. Harris said the fire department would assist the emergency squad in running calls and would allow all active emergency squad members to continue to run calls.
“If Kenbridge Emergency Squad does elect to merge with Victoria Fire and Rescue, those two run areas would be combined and covered by two stations,” Hoover explained. “If Kenbridge Emergency Squad decides to merge with Kenbridge Fire Department, then Kenbridge Emergency Squad’s run area would merge with the fire department.”
Harris cited issues between
members of Kenbridge Fire and Kenbridge Rescue as the primary cause to blame for the emergency squad’s refusal to merge with the fire department.
Harris cites major issues if KES merged with Victoria Fire and Rescue, including a transfer of raised funds and Victoria’s response time being too long for calls in Kenbridge.
“The rescue squad was funded and put in place with money raised in the Kenbridge area. It’s not right that (those assets and funds) would just be dumped into the lap of Victoria Fire and Rescue,” said Harris. “(In addition) the people who live in the Kenbridge area wouldn’t get the coverage they’ve been getting from the (KES). Even in Kenbridge, we have runs 15, 18 miles out of town; that will take entirely too long (for Victoria to respond).”
Hoover said the board of supervisors will get a final decision from KES before making decisions on the combined squads’ coverage areas.
Decisions on coverage areas would need to be made by the next board of supervisors meeting on March 9.
“Really, the only thing I can tell you right now … is that there’s a strategic planning committee … comprised of Town of Kenbridge and Lunenburg County officials,” Victoria Town Manager Rodney Newton, who also serves as interim administrator of the KES, told The Dispatch several days ago. “And, over the course of the next week or so, those decisions will be made and something will be put out after then.”
The work to battle the squad’s financial situation and shrinking volunteer base comes as Newton has tendered his resignation as interim administrator as of Feb. 28.
The biggest struggle KES is facing, according to Newton, is the lack of volunteers.
“We have a strong core of volunteers, but we are unable to provide coverage 24 hours a day,” he said.
KES only provides rescue services.
According to Newton, the agency has paid crews on call from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. seven days a week.
“Primarily nights, yes,” he said time period KES struggles to answer calls.
Currently, the squad has about eight volunteers, who are not paid, he said.
KES bills for services and transportation, Newton said, calling it “revenue recovery.”
The squad is “financially struggling, too, because of having to pay so much to provide coverage.”
On the planning committee include County Administrator Tracy Gee, members of the board of supervisors and officials from the Town of Kenbridge.
“It’s 6-8 people on the committee,” Newton said of the group, which has been meeting weekly.
Newton took over as interim administrator in September 2015.
“Just too many other obligations,” he said of his seeking to relinquish the role.