Archived Story

Volunteers ask for more funding

Published 10:38pm Monday, April 29, 2013

Suffolk’s volunteer fire departments are looking for more money from the city’s annual allocation, which they say is needed to maintain their current level of service.

The city has proposed to give the four volunteer departments a total of $104,000, which the departments are expected to supplement with their own fundraisers.

But Chuck Brothers Jr., chief of the Whaleyville Volunteer Fire Department and president of the Suffolk Emergency Services Commission, says the departments need and deserve more.

“We are grateful for what we do receive from the city towards operational expenses incurred by the organizations,” he wrote in a statement. “We all are thankful for the great working relationship we have with the fire administration and the great men and women that make up Suffolk Fire and Rescue. However, in today’s environment of escalating expenses this level of support does not meet the challenges we all face day to day to operate our organizations.”

The proposed funding is less than one-half of one percent of the Department of Fire and Rescue’s total proposed budget.

“This is a small amount of support for the approximately 130 members that serve within these organizations and approximately 17 emergency vehicles to operate and maintain,” Brothers wrote.

He added the value of the volunteers is about $5.8 million, based on the average of salaries and wages for the department’s employees.

“We truly understand the economic environment that we are all faced with today,” Brothers wrote. “We will continue to serve this city that we so proudly represent regardless of the economic environment. However, I do believe that each organization is in need of increased budget funding. Budget allocations have remained flat and constant for too many years, while costs to maintain equipment, train personnel and retain an active membership has increased for all organizations.

“We believe that these volunteer emergency first responders who ask for nothing in return should have the fullest support from city council and city administration to provide, support and maintain the public safety program of the City of Suffolk.”

The proposed $104,000 is level funding from the current fiscal year but fell from $110,000 in fiscal year 2012.

Brothers said he would like to see the city begin giving parts of its yearly surpluses to the volunteer departments.

Under a separate line item, the city has proposed giving $40,000 to the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad. A representative did not return a request for comment.

PrintFriendly
  • BE

    @snhreader -Thank you. You made some very good points. Unfortunately attitudes like those of Suffolk23 don’t help the situation. Although it would be great to have more participation, sometimes in an emergency – one Volunteer can make a big difference and is appreciated. There are times a Paid Crew is taken out of service because they lack one Staff Member to par up the Engine when that Staff had to assist the Medic transporting to a hospital. The Engine can be put back in service with the assistance of one qualified Volunteer! (Several Volunteers are qualified by the State of VA – Suffolk 23, once again, you lack knowledge of the Volunteer program) The training situation has been a large problem in the past due to attitudes like those of Suffolk23; however, it is being addressed thanks to the persistence of some of the Volunteer Officers Suffolk23 gives no credit to. Both Firefighter 1 & 2 classes for Volunteers sponsored by the City begin in June. Previously, dedicated Volunteers have sought out “qualified” State Certification programs, which they had to drive long distances to out of the City – but they did it! Folks like Suffolk23 stand in the way of a lot of good things… @ Suffolk23 perhaps the Volunteers would be more willing to participate as a “Suffolk Fire Company” if “joke” attitudes from some such as you did not exist. You might be surprised at both the Volunteer’s attitudes and knowledge if you actually participated with an active group. From your comments it is apparent that you do not. I welcome you to attend the next SES meeting and be a part of the solution rather than the problem. Contact Chief Scott’s secretary for details.

    Suggest Removal

  • suffolk23

    Wow you could probably have a good point if I didn’t know exactly how things work with the volunteers. The volunteers at Holland, Whaleyville and Driver are a Joke. Most of them are not qualified for the so called positions they have. Really I am done with this post considering it will not and does not matter. If the volunteers wanted to actually matter there would be one volunteer agency and they fell under the fire department were trained by the fire department. But that won’t happen because these so called Chiefs would would have to actually do things the right way.

    Suggest Removal

  • Sassafras

    @Suffolk23 and snhreader
    You both lack adequate knowledge in matters concerning the training, qualifications, duties required, and Certification levels held by many of the Volunteer Staff in the area, as well as the Apparatus. Yes, some apparatus is supported by the City (including Chuckatuck’s new engine on the 50/50 deal), however several of the Apparatus (Engines, Tankers, Brush Trucks, etc.) are owned and maintained by the Individual Volunteer Departments. The comments on this blog are both extremely inaccurate and offensive. The local Volunteer Departments do a great deal to supplement the Career Staff including but not limited to: setting up Nightingale LZ’s, providing additional support on vehicle accidents (which there seem to be an abundance of in our Fair City), backfilling stations so that other Career Staff are not pulled from home stations, and additional man power for fire’s, disasters caused by severe weather, and water supply. They also have a wonderful influence on the youth through the Jr. Firefighter programs. Several of the Career Staff in Suffolk and the surrounding areas began their profession though the Volunteer Organizations. They are not a replacement for the valued Career Staff of our city which is greatly needed and appreciated, but they are a valuable asset to be recognized as well. Many local departments work very well with the paid crews. I am sorry this has not been your experience, but your experience does not speak for the masses. Many Citizens support and appreciate what our Volunteers do; as well as our Career Staff! No, they are not always available, because they are “Volunteers” and many have full-time jobs which prevent them from being available all of the time. There is no A, B, &C shift in the Volunteer Department – the same guys who worked hard all day at other jobs are there for the community during the night, on their own time (often back to back evenings). It is a shame to have the good reputation of many questioned by the ignorance of a few through Media. Although Volunteers do not always “hang” around the stations, many pull duty, and others are available at a pagers notice to leave their families and answer the call that could save someone in your family’s life and/or property. The training they go through to prepare for those calls is also done on their own time. Some individual departments do set up training with the Career staff at their stations and work hard to build a good working relationship with their fellow Firefighters. I would encourage you to get involved in a positive manner, and offer reasonable good suggestions to your local Volunteer Department – suggestions that you would be willing to do yourself at no cost on your own time.

    Suggest Removal

    • snhreader

      BE,

      I’m sorry if my “legit” comment set you off. I agree that I do lack adequate knowledge in these matters, as I am just a layperson. I wrote my comment in part to spur someone like you to post a comment with information about the volunteer departments. Their involvement in daily public safety is not reported on by the media and is not known by the citizens.

      That said, I’m correct in my assertions about the relied-upon staffing levels maintained by certain volunteer agencies (Sta 2 & 9). The functions that you listed are important and valuable, but are auxiliary and are contingent upon the availability of volunteers and when the incident is taking place. There are literally a handful of individuals (at certain stations) providing those supplemental services you listed.

      Maybe the people are there, but the money to train them is not? I do not know.

      I personally would like to see the City support the volunteer agencies because they have been valuable assets during natural disasters and would be during a large-scale event. Chesapeake, Portsmouth and Norfolk don’t have such assets available.

      Suggest Removal

  • countryboy

    @suffolk23. How you like your taxes now??

    Suggest Removal

  • suffolk23

    Good idea. Then they will get less than they do now and would save a huge amount of money

    Suggest Removal

  • snookums

    Perhaps each volunteer agency should be compensated for the number of calls they respond to. Therefore, each agency will be paid for the level of service they are providing.

    Suggest Removal

  • suffolk23

    Actually when I asked those questions I knew the answers.

    Yes maintenance tabs are picked up by the city already. Because most of the equipment that has volunteer logos actually belongs to the city and sits as a back up for paid firefighters. Chuckatuck and NSVRS are the only true volunteer agencies. And training has been provided and the follow through was not from the city but from the volunteer side.
    What’s funny is the ones running around calling themselves Chieg when they could not even qualify for Entry level Firefighter for the City of Suffolk. Suffolk Emergency Services Committee. Really. And next week I am forming the Suffolk Justice League. We will have a Club house and everything. That’s funny.

    Suggest Removal

    • Browning

      Your very funny 23. The world needs more like you. Thank you for all you do.

      Suggest Removal

  • snhreader

    Chuckatuck VFD is the only “legit” volunteer fire agency in Suffolk today, answering calls 24/7, and often staffing a second truck while the first is tied up.

    The rescue squad is only staffed 6p-6a M-F and 24 hrs on weekends. They do this with occasional spotty coverage (coming in late after 6p, or being without an ALS provider for a certain period of time).

    Membership is the real problem, and I don’t know if money is going to have an impact. Because call volume is easily handled by Suffolk Fire & Rescue, there is no motivation to recruit new volunteers and the existing ones seldom answer calls.

    Perhaps the new Chief Scott will desire to rely upon the volunteer agencies more heavily and will spur them into motion through recruitment, training, and funding.

    Suggest Removal

  • Browning

    Are the vehicles serviced by the the city fleet? No they are not. And they have to be tested,serviced and state inspected every year at each VFD’s cost.In which is funded by donations.
    Why dont they train with the paid personel? Because the city has not been able to put together a class ( that they have been instructed to do by the city Deputy Chief )for the last 3 years leaving the volunteers to get there certification from Franklin, Surry and IOW county.
    The city pays the insurance? The apperatus insurence comes from the funds that this article is about to begin with and the insurence on the members is workers comp as mandated by the city per a city council resolution made back in 1993 that states the Vol. firefighters and police are to be city employees ,which means the city has to provide workers comp insurence.

    I really belive you and most people living in our city just dont know this and are quick to critisize.

    Suggest Removal

  • suffolk23

    The volunteer agencies in this city besides chuckatuck and Nansemond suffolk volunteer rescue squad offer very little except the occasional joy ride around town on equipment. Half of them are not even qualified to serve at the rank they run around using. Next time you get a chance drive by Holland, Driver and Whaleyville stop in and see how many Volunteers are there . Or you can wait until the Peanut Fest and you can watch them stand out by Derby and pretend they can actually do something.

    Are the vehicles at these agencies not serviced by the city fleet?

    Why can’t they train with the paid personnel on duty?

    The city already pays the insurance on these agencies?

    Suggest Removal

  • StJohnsRector

    For what it’s worth, when looking at the cost of doing business the entire Norfolk Fire Department 2013 Operating budget is $40 MILLION. $104,000 doesn’t even cover Norfolk’s contractual budget. Not saying that Norfolk is better or worse, simply that $104k is a paltry sum of money for something as important as fire and rescue services.

    Suggest Removal

  • John Doe

    I see Nansemond Suffolk Volunteers around downtown. I don’t see any others. Are they really saving us money?

    Suggest Removal

    • Browning

      @ John Doe – The Holland, Whaleyville, Chuckatuck, and Driver Volunteer Fire Departments are not located “Down Town”; however, when the tornado’s strike, the landfills catch on fire, or city blocks are burning – all four of these volunteer departments are summoned within minutes of the first alarm down town, and respond as they would for their own run areas – and still provide additional man power for their own stations….no charge.

      Suggest Removal

  • Roger Leonard

    Pennies in cost for millions in real savings to the city…

    Suggest Removal

    • countryboy

      @John Doe,maybe you don’t know that Suffolk is the largest city in the state by land mass. To get to Holland,Whaleyville, Chuckatuck or Driver you will drive to all 4 points of the city. The city is not made of strictly downtown or Harborview.

      Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks