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Spotsy pushes back deadline for training for volunteer firefighters
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Volunteer firefighters and EMTs in Spotsylvania County could be stuck behind desks if they don't complete hundreds of hours of training requirements by 2014.
The county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to extend by a year--from Jan. 1, 2013, to Jan. 1, 2014--the deadline for minimum training standards for volunteer first-responders.
Paid staff are required to take the courses as well, but their training takes place as part of their hiring process.
Fire Chief Chris Eudailey said those who do not complete the courses--which are offered online and in person--by 2014 would have limited roles. They could serve in an administrative capacity, he said.
Supervisor Benjamin Pitts, who was on the board when it initially approved the training requirements in 2011 following a fatal fire the previous year, said he was concerned the county was pushing back the deadline. "If you kick the can long enough, it winds up in a ditch somewhere," he said.
Supervisor Paul Trampe said Pitts had a valid point.
"I am willing to kick the can down the road this time, but I'm not going to be willing to do that an unlimited number of times," he said.
Supervisor David Ross said it would be great if the county could provide training for volunteers during their shifts.
Board members also voted to establish a Jan. 1, 2015, deadline for fire and rescue command officers to complete training.
The county has struggled to get volunteers to show up to the classes. Eudailey said some have been good about attending, but he thinks others are waiting to see if the county will enforce the requirements.
The county's three volunteer agencies have around 250 members. It's unclear how many of them have completed the training requirements.
Some volunteers thought the original 2013 deadline was too strict. Others speculated that it was an attempt to get rid of them.
Mark Kuechler, an assistant chief with the Spotsylvania Volunteer Fire Department, said he'd have to complete around 400 hours of coursework to satisfy the minimum requirements for command officers.
He is a self-employed subcontractor and says he doesn't have time to do that.