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Arcola-Pleasant Valley fire department enhancing staffing

Arcola FireTimes-Mirror Staff Photo/Crystal Owens The Arcola-Pleasant Valley Fire Department will expand fire engine response from 12 hours per day to 24 hours per day.
Loudoun's Board of Supervisors on June 10 signed off on allocating more than $1 million to the Arcola-Pleasant Valley Volunteer Fire Department to upgrade the station's staffing.

The funds will help cover the expense for hiring and training eight new career firefighter positions within the Arcola company (Company 9) that covers a growing, recently suburbanized part of southern Loudoun. With the new positions, the department is expected to expand fire engine response from 12 hours per day to 24 hours per day.

Fire and rescue services in Loudoun County are provided through a combination system that includes nearly 500 career and more than 1,500 volunteer personnel.

The Arcola-Pleasant Valley department has struggled to recruit volunteer firefighters in recent years, according to Chris Jones, president of the Arcola Volunteer Department.

Jones suggested this is because the area has gone from a rural region to more suburban, and the folks living there largely work jobs requiring them to commute out of the county frequently.

Loudoun County's adopted 2014 budget doesn't include any appropriation to hire the extra “full-time equivalent” positions to cover the Arcola department's request for staffing, according to a Loudoun County staff report.

In order to meet the request, staff recommended the board approve the hires at a cost of more than $665,000 for the current fiscal year. If hired immediately, the new recruits would likely finish their training around March 2014. While the training is in progress, the emergency staffing from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. would be paid for through overtime at a cost of more than $370,000.

According to Supervisor Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles), the Arcola-Pleasant Valley department “is the first due engine company for Stone Ridge, Kirkpatrick Farms and Brambleton.”

“Fire-Rescue and the Board of Supervisors constantly monitor call response times and in our area, we consistently exceed our goals,” Letourneau stated on his public Facebook page. “Citizens should remain confident that if they have an emergency, they will get help quickly. “

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I’m glad to see the fire rescue department being allocated the resources (and overtime pay) they certainly need to maintain staffing levels in that growing area.

Now if only the county would do the same for the Sheriff’s Office where staffing levels routinely dip well below minimum required levels due to the lack of staffing and Deputies being required to flex schedules to not accrue any overtime.

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