Fairfax, Va. — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors on Feb. 26 unanimously approved agreements that formalize the over 60-year relationship between Virginia’s largest fire department and its partner volunteer fire companies.
The management agreements define roles and responsibilities of the local government, its Fire and Rescue Department, and the 12 volunteer fire organizations that operate in the county. It specifies who is responsible for maintenance and repairs of facilities, procurement and maintenance of equipment, as well as many other aspects of daily operations.
“This is a major milestone that brings the volunteers and the County into a tighter alliance, assuring the long-term health of the relationship,” said Jonathan Wood, president of the Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, which represents the volunteer organizations.
“It signifies that we are truly one unified, combined system,” Wood added.
The first firefighters in Fairfax County were citizen-volunteers who donated time and money to protect their neighbors. This volunteer tradition continues today, a century after the first fire departments were founded.
Last year, 700 members from 12 volunteer fire departments contributed more than 217,000 hours supporting the community. Operational volunteers are trained to the same professional certification levels as their career counterparts and often respond to emergency calls together.
The operational volunteers team with administrative members to raise money that support the purchase of equipment including ambulances and fire engines, as well as operation of some fire stations.
“The Board’s action is historic for our combination career-volunteer fire and rescue system and paves the way for County Executive Ed Long to execute the agreements by the end of the fiscal year with the volunteer organizations,” said Shawn Stokes, the Association’s Vice President for Administration.
Stokes, who helped draft the document, said that while the handshake agreement in place since the 1949 establishment of the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department was effective, there has long been a need to have a written agreement that documents what the County provides, what the volunteer organizations contribute, and how they operate together.
“This is the culmination of five years of hard work,” Stokes said.
The Fairfax County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association is a partnership of 12 volunteer fire and rescue departments in Fairfax County, Va. Learn more about the Association at www.fcvfra.org. (2/26/2013)