They've Done It Before … They Mean Business
THE PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA, Board of Supervisors are not tolerant of gross misbehavior when it comes to their volunteer fire departments. Just over four years ago they dissolved the Gainesvillle VFD and took over their two stations and stocked them with all-paid firefighters.
The Gainesville bunch had pressed their luck too far while jiggering the books, holding crooked elections and disobeying the law. The camel's back failed completely when the fire chief moved his entire family into one of the stations and made it their primary residence.
Dave Statter reported on this event on STATter911 in detail HERE.
Now it's beginning to look like deja vu all over again (to quote Yogi), this time it's the Coles District VFD in the eastern end of the county near the Quantico Marine Base.
Jeremy Borden, writing in The Washington Post, is reporting:
A fireman dressed up as Santa and other members of the Coles Volunteer Fire Department in Prince William County headed out to wave to residents and offer some good cheer around Christmas time last year.
Except that they used emergency truck lights on Dumfries Road, causing confusion, and used a stoplight switcher, which is illegal except in emergencies, according to a task force report that delved into the volunteer department’s long-standing problems.
The report also noted that the volunteers didn’t tell Prince William officials that they had planned the event, taking key fire apparatus out of commission.
Incidents such as the "Santa Ride" and what the report described as a cavalier attitude toward county and state laws and rules, have prompted the board that governs the county’s career and volunteer fire and rescue services to consider dissolving the unit, among other options.
According to the report, members broke patient privacy laws by posting photos to their Facebook page of emergency scenes, didn’t show up for regular shifts and didn’t abide by fire department regulation. The task force highlighted a firehouse-turned-"old boy’s club," as one former member put it, where outsiders were shunned and fire staff treated emergency medical responders with derision.
There's more, no doubt, but it hasn't been released yet. The Fire Rescue Association's Executive Committee will be meeting with County Fire Chief Kevin McGee on Wednesday to consider all the options available to correct this rogue department, including dissolution, combining them with another VFD for operation and oversight, or just placed under the command of another company's officers. They are expected to make a decision the following week and present their recommendation to the Board of Supervisors who will make the final choice of what will be done.
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