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Wythe County, Va. Board of Supervisors SHUT DOWN rural Volunteer Fire Department in the interest of Public Safety.

Photo from WDBJ7.com

The Wythe County Board of Supervisors has shut down the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department in Virginia in what they say is in the interest of Public Safety.

“Virginia Code 27-10 provides that the governing body of the County may dissolve a fire company for any reason it deems advisable.” 

A Court injunction was granted and posted barring members from the building. They even changed the locks.

On Wednesday, former volunteers were turning in  their turnout gear, pagers, radios and all other County issued equipment.

A sad day for some and a much needed step in the eyes of others.

Wythe County cited “a lack of formal training” as just one of the reasons for shutting to doors.

Gene Horney, who is a county Supervisor and a firefighter said “The fire department’s not what it was four or five years ago. And to me, it’s gone downhill”.

Some of the Speedwell VFD member’s certifications have expired, others had no certification at all. The now former Chief, Alfred Rosenbaum; says they were receiving on the job training. He said ” “We were doing in-house training. I was an instructor”.

Under the FAQ section of the Virginia Department of Fire Program’s web site, it states…

“What does it require to be a certified firefighter in Virginia?

Attendance at 115 hours for Firefighter I (HMA-CPR) *72 hours for Firefighter II (HMO) ** These hours include Hazardous Materials Awareness and Operations 

Financial problems were another reason cited for shutting down the Department. Although requested, no proof could be shown as to where the Speedwell VFD had ever filed taxes. On top of that, they have lost their non-profit status which means a huge loss in grant money.

The Speedwell VFD is located in rural Southwest Virginia near the North Carolina and Tennessee borders.

Wythe County plans to reorginize the Department and expects that to take about a month.

In the meantime, the citizens and visitors of Speedwell will be served by surrounding Departments such as  the  Ivanhoe Volunteer Fire Department, Rural Retreat Volunteer Fire Department, and Wytheville Volunteer Fire Department .

I believe the closing will almost certainly cause a delay in response to the area.

Here’s a copy of the news release obtained from News7 …

“On August 15, 2012, Wythe County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to reorganize the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department in an effort to ensure the community is served in the safest, most well organized manner. New members are needed to form the future of the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department and residents of the coverage area are encouraged to apply.

During the reorganization, the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department coverage area will be covered by surrounding departments to ensure the community is safely secured regarding fire response.  Ivanhoe Volunteer Fire Department, Rural Retreat Volunteer Fire Department, and Wytheville Volunteer Fire Department will be working to cover the Speedwell response area during this time.

New applicants should be residents who wish to serve their community. New members who wish to be considered for membership in the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department will need to made application Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department, Wythe County Offices, or online at www.wytheco.org. Applications are due August 29, 2012.
Virginia Code 27-10 provides that the governing body of the County may dissolve a fire company for any reason it deems advisable.  The resolution from the governing body regarding the dissolving and reorganization of the Speedwell Volunteer Fire Department became effective immediately following the passing of the resolution on the morning of August 15, 2012.”

Video and more from WDBJ 7 .. click HERE

I’ll give ya my take on the issue a bit later … until then, tell me yours and Stay SAFE and in House!

Captain Wines

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Comments - Add Yours

  • Frank D. Harrisson

    How short sided can you get? Firefighters put out fires not certificates! Some protection is better than no protection. A delay in response may well cause a life and a lot of property.

  • No.1 Statter, Iron Fireman, Fire Critic Fan from Va

    Thanks for this story and the one from Buchananon. These guys aren’t the only “volunteer” agency that are screwed up, espically in Virginia. I know of one that I am on leave from right now outside of Danville, Va. The “chief” is not a certified firefighter, among other things. It is a shame they got to this point. If you don’t have the proper training how can you put a fire out? Captain by getting the word out on this type of thing you might be very well saving firefighter’s and civilian lives. Take Care. I hope your buddies up there heal fast and get better soon from the injuries received at there recent fire.

  • Carol Hook

    I see it all the time in Alabama. One Fire Dept. going to fight a fire some place else because on one from the town were the fire is shows up,but nothing is done or said. The town hides everything. You should see the Mayors race DIRTY DIRTY DIRTY.

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