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Members of the newly expanded Fire and Rescue Commission listen to last night's presentation from County Administrator Doug Barnes at the Holbert Building.
Spotsylvania County Administrator Doug Barnes addresses the newly expanded Fire and Rescue Commission at the Holbert Building last night. Barnes called for minimum training standards for Spotsy fire and rescue personnel.
Spotsylvania County's combined fire and rescue system will soon have mandatory minimum training standards.
The new training requirements were part of a series of changes County Administrator Doug Barnes outlined to the Fire and Rescue Commission last night. Barnes recently expanded the commission from five voting members to nine members as part of his overhaul of the combined system of volunteers and career personnel.
Barnes said he wants to have a training planning session on Aug. 28 to establish uniform training goals that reflect the recommendations in the internal and external reports of a Feb. 5 fire on Spotswood Furnace Road, in which local resident Sandy Hill died.
The two reports were strongly critical of how the volunteers responded to that fire, which is the impetus behind these changes.
"Now is the season to move forward," Barnes told the more than 100 volunteers and career personnel who attended the meeting that was televised from the Holbert Building for the first time.
"Now is the time to change. The eyes of the citizens are on us. We need each other," he continued.
Barnes said the commission needs to continue reviewing and updating the standard operating procedures. The commission updated 30 standard operating procedures at its June meeting and adopted changes to five more last night.
"Everyone needs to be reading from the same book," Barnes said.
Barnes said he wants countywide mandatory minimum training standards for every position in the system.
"Our intent is to reinforce the value and importance of training and hopefully change the culture and attitude of our personnel toward training standards," he said.
Barnes also wants enhanced
"This training will stress the significance of personal accountability, personnel tracking, crew resource management and overall scene management," Barnes said.
Finally, Barnes said there will be enhanced officer development and training for those who are interested in climbing the ranks as a volunteer or career employee.
"Our goal is to move away from on-the-job training for officers and incorporate other training mechanisms to bolster our officer development and training," he said.
But Barnes continuously reminded those in the audience that now is the time to move forward and improve the system.
"Now, let's collaborate together to secure the future of a combination system in Spotsylvania County," he said.
Kevin Dillard, a commission member and administrative chief for Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue, said Barnes' message was "on target."
"We've got a great combination system here, and the vast majority of our people are very dedicated," he said. "We need to realize that change is not always bad. Change gives us many opportunities to become better than we've ever been before."
Mark Kuechler, a commission member and president of Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department, said he wants to see the combination system thrive.
"We are committed to the future of the combined system and the benefits it provides to the service, in reduced taxes and the opportunity to serve our community," he said.
Dan Telvock: 540/374-5438