Firehouse Fiefdoms

The Prince George  Fire Chiefs lost their battle last week to keep total control over their own firehouse volunteer personnel.  Now the Chiefs will serve as an advisory board to the Director of Fire and EMS.  The Director will make all decisions about staffing the six houses.  This move on the part of the Board of Supervisors has been in the works for well over two years though it has been talked about far longer.

The change was prompted by objective statistics on emergency response times, the untimely death of a Prince George woman waiting for a crew to arrive, and recent underwriting standards which resulted in exponential increases in fire insurance for residents in certain sections of the county.  No need to mention the difficulty recruiting and training volunteer firefighters and EMTs  who otherwise work full time jobs and must meet the same state certification standards as paid professionals.

The Director, who will also have budget decisions about acquisition, equipment management, and other management functions in this critical county function,  is seemingly well liked, even respected, by the Chiefs, but it is still a blow to the traditions of given fire house communities and a bitter bill to swallow for some.  While we may have sympathy for those grieving over the loss of tradition, we must consider that the move to professional management of a critical county function is necessary for a county of about 270 square miles and 37,000 residents.

That’s how I see it.

How do you see it?

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