Discussions continue on squad merger

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Kenbridge Town Council decided during its Feb. 21 meeting to table discussions on the future of funding for the Kenbridge Emergency Squad (KES) following supervisors’ decision to merge the agency with Victoria Fire and Rescue.

According to council documents, a discussion on the decision to continue to financially support KES was tabled until the next town council meeting.

“(We wanted) to give people time to think on it and come back for a discussion later,” Kenbridge Town Manager Robyn Fowler told The Dispatch.

Victoria Town Manager and Victoria Fire and Rescue Chief Rodney Newton said no official decisions have been made on details of the merge between Victoria Fire and Rescue and KES.

“There is no merger yet,” Newton said. “Both agencies are still operating independently but (are) in discussions.”

He said in an email to The Dispatch that “there are legal proceedings that have to be followed and the timeline for this is uncertain.”

The next Kenbridge Town Council meeting will be March 21.

Newton resigned as of Tuesday as the interim administrator of KES. He notified officials of his resignation weeks ago.

Tensions were high when county supervisors held a public meeting at the Kenbridge Emergency Squad building for a round-table discussion about the future of the squad on Feb. 16.

After an hour-and-a-half-long discussion, supervisors voted 4-2 to merge KES with Victoria Fire and Rescue.

Officials say KES had been struggling to answer calls due to lack of funds and volunteers — factors that led to the merger.

“As all of you know we have been struggling for a long time,” said Glenda Conner, chairman of KES. “We have asked for help from entities here in town and have not received them. Victoria has been there for us every time we have asked for help or every time we have needed help.”

Thompson added Victoria was able to provide continued training for KES members and volunteers.

“With Victoria being an EMS agency, we’re going to continue to get our training through them,” Thompson said. “No one with Kenbridge Fire Department is (an) authorized ‘teacher’ to give us our training.”

Craft added personal issues as another reason a merge with KFD

would not work well.

“We have done everything we can in the last three years, we’ve written our bylaws trying to make it a little easier because there’s a lot of personal conflict — people that just can’t play nice in the sandbox with others …,” Craft said. “I think the big picture is we’re here for the citizens of the county and we need to do what’s best for them. We need a long-term fix, not a short-term fix; that way, we don’t have to have this conversation again.”