Rescue squads to combine resources

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 29, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Two volunteer rescue organizations in the city – the Bennett’s Creek Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Nansemond-Suffolk Volunteer Rescue Squad – are becoming a single entity.

Bennett’s Creek, which has suffered from internal strife and a loss of volunteers for the past couple of years, has agreed to merge with the downtown-based Nansemond-Suffolk squad.

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On Friday, the Bennett’s Creek squad reportedly transferred the titles to about $500,000 worth of equipment, including ambulances and a crash truck, to Nansemond-Suffolk. Bennett’s Creek is expected to seal the deal during its regular business meeting on Tuesday.

In January, Lake F. Critzer, president of the Bennett’s Creek squad, said the organization planned to merge with the Driver Volunteer Fire Department, in accordance with an agreement worked out with the city.

But The Virginian-Pilot on Saturday reported that the squad opted to merge with Nansemond-Suffolk to avoid the risk of losing its state licensure. If the organization lost its license, the city would have the legal authority to seize ownership of its equipment.

Efforts to contact Critzer for more information on Saturday were unsuccessful.

Although she knew officials from the two volunteer squads had talked at one time, Assistant City Manager Cindy Rohlf – who has been working with Bennett’s Creek for the past year – said Saturday that the city has not yet been advised of their merger decision. The city had been operating under the impression that Bennett’s Creek and Driver would be merging, she said.

However, the city would not oppose the marriage of the two volunteer squads, Rohlf said.

&uot;For the city, the bottom line is making sure the calls are answered,&uot; she said. &uot;The important thing is that there will be no change in the level of service in that area.&uot;

Professional city crews, who have been handling most calls in northern Suffolk for the past few months, will continue responding to emergencies from its base at the North Suffolk Public Safety Center, she said.