Hanover Va closes some fire stations due to short staffing www.privateofficer.com
HANOVER, VA April 18 2012- We already knew about the budget cuts coming for Hanover firefighters, but now we have a better idea how it might affect you.
Firefighters say short staffing is forcing them some days to close stations, which could impact response time.
Station 2 in Beaverdam is closed because there are not enough firefighters to staff it. This is going to be an ongoing problem in many of these rural areas where firefighters will have to come from miles away during an emergency.
Every Tuesday, Judy Johnson comes to Beaverdam to take care of her grandson Henry.
A few weeks ago her heart started to beat irregularly.
“That had happened before but it only lasted about 5 or 10 minutes,” Johnson said. “This time it had been 40 minutes and I got sort of nervous.”
She called 911, but instead of firefighters from nearby Station 2 coming to help, she had to wait for firefighters to drive ten miles from another station in Montpelier.
“It could make a difference,” she said. “I was fine, but for somebody else it could make a huge difference.”
Often rural stations only have two full-time firefighters. If one calls out sick, Hanover Fire will sometimes have to close that station for the day.
Battalion Chief Larry Snyder says volunteer firefighters will sometimes be able to pick up the slack, but this is going to be an ongoing issue.
“You really have to look at the geography of the county,” Snyder said. “(You have to figure out) what people do I have today and what opportunities were somebody calls out sick, we can’t cover something.”
Logically, the farther away on-duty firefighters are, the longer it’s going to take to respond to an emergency.
Johnson says that’s not something she wants to hear.
“I feel comfortable with the station here when I’m keeping a baby,” Johnson said. “It’s sort of sad to know there’s nobody here.”
Hanover firefighters are still trying to figure out how to deal with this latest round of budget cuts. They hope to have a final plan in place in the next two to three weeks.
Hanover fire had its budget cut by six percent. The good news is firefighters say they did receive funding from the county to train more volunteers.