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A new truck for the old chief

The Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company’s shiny new wheels cost around $700,000. Courtesy Photo/Michael Dow, Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company
It’s sleek, shiny, state-of-the-art and cost roughly $700,000 — a bit out of the price range for most volunteer fire departments.

But Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company now has a new fire truck, Engine 601, thanks to a collaborative agreement with Loudoun County Combined Fire-Rescue System.

“It’s the only way we could do it,” said Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company Chief Jim Cook. “It’s logistically impossible for companies to afford these pieces all on our own.”
The arrangement is not unique. Fire officials say county funding of up to 59 percent of the cost of vehicles is available to the 15 volunteer companies, an average of $3 million annually.

Leesburg’s new engine has been in the works since mid-2015, when the county moved a heavy rescue squad — and staffing for it — into Leesburg’s Fire Station 20.

“That’s better for the citizens, it’s better for Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company, it’s better for the county because then we are guaranteed that 24/7 around the clock, we have properly trained and properly qualified personnel to run the heavy squad,” said Cook.

Fire officials say the new engine is dedicated to former Chief J.B. Anderson II, who is currently battling cancer. The Pierce Enforcer features a 525-horse power motor, 1,500 gallon per minute pump, and seats six firefighters. Regional Account Manager Randy Schwartz says, “It's truly the details that make this Pierce Enforcer a special one for Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company.”

The new engine is dedicated to former Chief J.B. Anderson II, who is battling cancer. Courtesy Photo/Michael Dow, Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company

Matthew Tobia is assistant chief of support services and volunteer administration for Loudoun County’s Combined Fire-Rescue System. He said the county-volunteer partnership model “takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of the volunteers to do fundraising activities so they can focus on the most important thing, which is training and providing service.”

Like other volunteer companies in Loudoun County, staffing for Fire Station 20 consists of career personnel during the day and volunteers at night for its engine, ladder truck and heavy squad. Additional county firefighters staff the heavy rescue squad, which requires specialty training and handles incidents like vehicle extrication, building collapses and water rescues. With a minimum of 11 personnel on duty at any given time, space is tight.

“It cramped us up,” said Chief Cook. “It definitely made for some close living quarters in the station.” But, he added, “It’s been fantastic. Our volunteer staff and the career staff and the squad generally interact every single night at the station. They have dinner together, they train together, we run calls together.”

“The provision of that heavy rescue service is so critical and by being able to centrally locate it at the Leesburg Volunteer Fire Station, it allows us to ensure those services from a location that is to the benefit of all of our citizens,” noted Assistant Chief Tobia.

Fire officials say the partnership at Fire Station 20 will continue with a 10,000-square-foot expansion, planned for the next 18-24 months, and an ongoing cooperative staffing effort to help ensure the safety of Leesburg and Loudoun county residents.


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