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Spotsy pushes back deadline for training for volunteer firefighters
"I ran a $650 million corporation," said Kuechler, 62, who is on the Fire, Rescue and EMS Commission. "I think I have enough leadership skills to be able to match that against some of the book training."
He also has 45 years of experience as a first-responder and thinks the county should waive training for someone like him.
"To me, it seems a little shortsighted," he said.
Spotsylvania started a nine-month training academy this October for volunteer firefighters, who are required to complete 284 hours of training, based on the new standards. The county covers the cost of training Spotsylvania volunteers.
Other localities in the Fredericksburg area also have strict training rules.
Fredericksburg requires its volunteer firefighters to complete more than 300 hours of training in two years, said Deputy Fire Chief Michael Jones.
"It's a large commitment, there's no question about that," he said.
Stafford County accepts volunteer firefighters who have taken a 144-hour firefighter course, said Mark Doyle, a spokesman for Stafford's Fire and Rescue Department.
But people with no training who apply to be volunteer firefighters have to enroll in an eight-month academy that amounts to 240 hours of training, he said. The county instituted that rule about a year ago, but grand-fathered in its existing volunteer firefighters.
Brook Pittinger, director of administration for the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, said most volunteer agencies require training, but the amount varies. Virginia does not mandate training for firefighters, but it does for EMTs.
Kuechler said he might volunteer in Caroline County if Spotsylvania enforces the 2015 training deadline for officers like him. Or he might call it quits.
"I'll be 65 years of age, and I guess I might just get a rocking chair and sit on the front porch," he said.
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402