Moving forward at the fire department

Story by Chris Graham
freepress2@ntelos.net

Things are moving forward on the West End fire station project. What happens when the station is ready to open for business is another question.

“We were already behind when the deputy fire marshal and deputy fire chief were cut from the budget last year. So even when we got our deputy fire chief back in place this year, we were just catching up. All it means is that what had been a five-year plan is now a six-year plan,” Waynesboro fire chief Charlie Scott told me this week.

I had been under the impression from having talked with Scott earlier this year that he would be able to staff the new fire station, which is on track to be open and operational by mid-2010, from existing manpower. The reason for my misimpression on that was a misread on my part of the actual situation, from Scott’s view, that the staffing problem that he currently faces would be a problem even if there was no new fire station coming online.

The city fire department right now has three rotating shifts of two three-man engine companies. Scott believes that to meet national staffing standards for cities the size of Waynesboro that he would need to add a fourth person to each of the engine-company shifts, and then add three shifts of a third four-man company.

That issue will come to a head as work on the West End fire station proceeds. The city is expected to select a firm to handle the architectural and engineering portion of the work on the new fire station by the end of July.

The 8,000-square-foot facility might also include colocation space for the city police department and the Waynesboro First Aid Crew.

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