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By CATHY DYSON
Floyd Allen compared the rift between former and current fire and rescue volunteers in King George County to the legendary disputes between the Hatfields and McCoys.
"These feuds are tearing apart our community," said Allen, a volunteer for seven years. "We need to get away from that."
Allen was among more than 20 representatives of the department--many in uniform--who filed into the Board of Supervisors' meeting room Tuesday night.
Six people, including former supervisor James Mullen, spoke in support of Chief David Moody and the department, which Allen described as "unified and growing."
The speakers also railed against a recent survey that asked former volunteers why they left the system and what would bring them back. Several of the questions pertained to Moody, such as if he should be fired or have his power severely limited.
"This is a real setback and a distraction from my day-to-day business," said Ted Lovell, the department's volunteer chief. "Everything we do is about delivery of services to our customers, and we're not doing the best job we can, but we're doing the best job we can with the manpower we have today."
Supervisor John LoBuglio said he was trying to do something about the shortage of volunteers when he formed a committee on his own and distributed the questionnaire to people who have left the department.
His voice cracked slightly as he defended his actions, saying "somebody had to go out and finally ask some questions. Let's get this out in the open once and for all and get everything spoken."
LoBuglio took abuse Tuesday not only from the public, but also from two fellow board members, Joe Grzeika and Dale Sisson Jr.
Sisson said the questionnaire violated everything he knows about surveys, but Grzeika's criticism was considerably harsher.
"I find this insulting and demeaning to our fire and rescue team, both paid and volunteers," Grzeika said. This "so-called survey is not and has not been endorsed or discussed by this board to my knowledge and has no validity in my mind."
Valerie Myers, who's been president of the fire and rescue volunteers for three years, said her fellow members don't support the survey, either. She said the department is trying to attract "the right kind of volunteer," not bring back people who left on bad terms.
"I can't speak for those volunteers who left in recent years, but I can state that most were dismissed for discipline reasons or due to lack of participation in activities," Myers said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
On the same night that fire and rescue workers and their supporters filled half the seats in the board room, the King George Board of Supervisors added a last-minute item to its agenda.
The board approved $120,665 for extrication rescue tools. Often referred to by the trademarked term Jaws of Life, the tools are used to free motorists trapped inside wrecked cars. King George's extrication tools are 10 to 30 years old and past their life expectancy, said Chief David Moody.
The parts manufacturer in Winchester gave the county a $26,750 credit on its old tools. Funds to pay for the new items will come from the EMS budget and from funds available from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs.