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BOS debates new fire station criteria

Representatives from existing volunteer firefighting organizations and representatives from the proposed Stratford Hall volunteer fire fighting organization me with the Westmoreland supervisors on Sept. 13. Resulting in the Supervisors’ stated intention of ratifying a formalized set of uniform guidelines for establishing any new fire station in Westmoreland County.

During the meeting, the board adopted the motion delivered by District 2 Supervisor Rosemary Mahan that deferred any action on the Stratford Hall fire station question until the set of uniform minimum parameters are in place. Board Chairman Darryl Fisher tasked a subcommittee with drafting the official criteria.

 

When the Supervisors gather at 6 p.m. this Wednesday in A.T. Johnson auditorium, the board will review the draft criteria whose stated purpose is improvement of “fire suppression and medical response to residents of the defined area.”

According to the document, any new fire station must be further than five miles from an existing station and the coverage area must be “classified by ISO as an unprotected service location.” The draft criteria would require a new fire station to “be constructed by proceeds collected in the form of private donations from the community and/or grant funds through federal, state or other sources” and county staff would “assist with mailings and any grant applications pertaining to the establishment of such facilities.

“The establishment of such stations shall be considered substations of the existing fire protection districts for which they are created,” the draft advises.

“If such stations are created they will be owned, operated and maintained by the fire department” in whose district the new substation has been sited. The county would contribute “a minimum of $52,500 (50% of the annual contribution to the primary station) per year to insure coverage of operational and maintenance expenses,” with the funding a subject of annual appropriations.

“Any contract for services and/or purchases for the construction of said substation shall be done in accordance with the Commonwealth of Virginia and Westmoreland County procurement polices [and] if the fire station ceases to operate, the real property and improvements thereon shall be conveyed to the County,” the draft document relates.

“If the department designated for operating the facility determines to terminate the operation, it shall provide the county with twelve months notice of such action.

“It is understood that the parties interested in establishing a new fire station will work diligently towards recruitment and retention of manpower to operate the facility in the most effective and cost efficient manner. All parties to the {memorandum of understanding] agree to work towards the goal of recruitment of six members from the service area who will complete Firefighter 1 training.

“The county treasurer shall create a special fund to deposit all contributions collected for the purpose of establishing a new fire station. The county will provide contributors with the appropriate tax information regarding contributions for federal and state income tax filing.

“The Board of Supervisors will authorize the construction of the requested station once the fundraising goals established by the appointed committee are reached.

“The Stratford Fire Substation Committee shall be charged with developing a plan to construct a fire station that meets the needs of the service area and the goals outlined by the Board of Supervisors. This report shall be submitted in writing in the form of a memorandum of understanding between the appropriate parties and include a project budget.”

If approved, the referenced language would govern creation of the Stratford Hall fire station and any other fire station or substation in Westmoreland County. In addition to the Cople, Westmoreland and Oak Grove volunteer fire stations, substations have been established in Mount Holly and Coles Point. The draft criteria that will be the subject of this week’s consideration would convey substation status to the proposed Stratford Hall fire station.

Betsy Ficklin

 

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