Warren County to Take Over Management of Shenandoah Farms Fire Department

After weathering months of community criticism that has included complaints about poor responsiveness to fire and rescue calls, poorly maintained equipment, a criminal investigation by the Virginia State Police and review by the Clarke County Commonweatlh’s Attorney, the Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department may finally be back on the path to reclaiming its role as a reliable emergency management resource for citizens living in southeastern Clarke County and northeastern Warren County.

On Monday the Clarke County Board of Supervisors signed a letter of agreement with the Warren County Board of Supervisors which places day-to-day operational and budgetary oversight of SFVFD under the direct oversight of Warren County’s full-time fire chief.

“Warren County has agreed to administer and take oversight of the funding provided to SFVFD by both counties,” Clarke County Administrator David Ash told the Clarke Supervisors. “Most of SFVFD calls originate from Warren County but the station physically sits in Clarke County so it makes sense for Warren County to do this. I think that the agreement will ensure that Clarke County and Warren County are both on the same page in terms of oversight.”

SFVFD, which is physically located in Clarke County on Howellsville Road, is geographically located less than one-quarter mile from Warren County. Although the fire company responds to many emergency calls originating in Clarke County, its primary service area is the Shenandoah Farms subdivision – located mostly within Warren County – and the Blue Mountain subdivision – located entirely within Warren County.

After a 2011 investigation by the Virginia State Police identified a number of questionable financial transactions by SFVFD officials, Warren County assumed the responsibility for the financial management of SFVFD’s publicly-donated income. Monday’s agreement formally transfers that managerial oversight from Clarke to Warren County. Warren County will now also assume responsibilities for the radio, telephone, broadband, internet and other communications dispatching of SFVFD’s fire and medical equipment and personnel for the purpose of responding to fire and emergency medical incidents.

During discussion of the impacts, if any, that the management transfer will have on the safety of Clarke County citizens, Supervsor Barbara Byrd (Russell) raised the question of how Clarke County will respond if SFVFD fails to respond to the new management oversight.

“What if Warren County is not satisfied with improvements at SFVFD and the funding for the fire company goes away?” Byrd asked.

“Boyce Fire Company and Mount Weather Fire Company currently respond to many calls in the area,” replied Administrator Ash. “Warren County has a bigger incentive for making the arrangement work because of the geography that has to be covered.”

Either Clarke County or Warren County can terminate the agreement upon 120 days notice to the other jurisdiction.

The agreement, which has already be signed by SFVFD Chief Don Hoover, stipulates that Warren County’s Fire Chief will have unrestricted access to all books, ledgers, accounts records, logs, notebooks, and any other financial, organizational, historical and operational records and documents of SFVFD.

While the new operating agreement provides a framework that may improve SFVFD’s management situation, the operational details of ensuring that emergency assistance actually reaches citizens in a timely manner must still be worked out. The plan calls for Warren County’s fire and rescue dispatch center to assume responsibility for dispatching of SFVFD personnel and equipment, a task formerly performed by Clarke County’s emergency management center.

The agreement calls for Warren County to fully integrate SFVFD into its E-911 and dispatch hardware, software and protocols.

“I’m comfortable that we can ensure that calls that come into our emergency center are transferred to Warren County very quickly,” said Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper who also participated in the discussion. “Working out those procedures still needs to be done but it will be a top priority for my staff.”

Comments

  1. Wagonman says:

    Just a couple of corrections for the CDN editor. Mr. Hoover is not the Chief at SFVFD, he is the president. Also SFVFD is still in charge of their private fund-raising and private donations. Warren County controls the two counties budgeted funds.

  2. Mountain Man says:

    I think it is awesome that the Boyce Fire Chief and the Mt. Weather FEMA Fire Chief have agreed to run ALL of Shenandoah Farms Vol Fire Dept’s calls when (not if) SFVFD doesn’t respond to this new oversight and disolves. Thanks CDN editor for sharing this iimportant revelation from the meeting.

    • Wagonman says:

      MM what leads you to believe SFVFD is going anywhere?? SFVFD has been responding to calls in this area for 40 years. Please understand that SFVFD is an all volunteer station where almost all of the responders have daytime jobs. Mount Weather is staffed 24/7 by paid staff. (Your tax dollars at work). Until recently Boyce was staffed by unemployed people who were living at the station making it easy for them to respond. Don’t look for SFVFD to fold and go away.

  3. Wine Taster says:

    The fire station in Boyce has a bunch of unemployed people living there? That can’t be good. Is it a fire station or a homeless shelter?

    • Wagonman says:

      WT, I didn’t mean to imply these were homeless bums. These people are qualified fire and rescue folks who were hit with the market and employment collapse.

    • Sarah Gough says:

      Boyce does not have unemployed people living at the station. One of the conditions of living in is that you have a full time job.

    • it isn’t like that…the real term is live-in…being a prior live in at another station, it does not mean that they don’t have a job…it is just where they sleep. Many departments around the country have this program and it has hit off very well. It actually helps the department grow into an even better company knowing that there are people that might be there ready to answer any call that goes out. I can say for the nights that I stayed there our station had an ambulance and a fire truck ready to roll with at least 6 people. Not bashing you for the homeless shelter comment…rather letting you know that it is an option for people that do the live in programs at their fire departments. =)

  4. Sunshine says:

    Thanks to all the women and men in our Volunteer Companies!

    To give of your time for training and leaving your loved ones to respond/assist Clarke County residents in which, many times, are in their darkest hours takes a special dedication.

    I have no doubt that all of the operational issues will be addressed and that area will have good coverage.

  5. A little off the subject but does anyone know what happened to the people in the wreck at Rt. 7 & Parker Lane or on Parker Lane? Heard they called for Aircare for one & the other went to WMC. Sad.

    CDN: We are tracking it and will have more information when it is available.

  6. Mountain Man says:

    To acquire info on that incident you’ll have to ask Mt. Weather FD folks. Blue Ridge VFC failed to respond according to my bearcat scanner. Looks like Mt. Weather FD is filling in for the volunteers on the north end of the county as well. Man, they truly are our tax dollars at work!

  7. Plankton says:

    Imagine that, a person appearing to be affiliated with SF VFD putting out innacurate information about Boyce VFC. Nice contribution to the comment section wagonman. Way to help SFVFD’s cause.

    • Wagonman says:

      Plankton, at one time fairly recently at least a few people at the Boyce VFD were unemployed. If they are employed now then more power to them. My remarks weren’t intended as a slight against BVFD. They are a great bunch of guys and gals. I was merely commenting on their ability to get out during the day.

  8. For the Record says:

    Based on the flag pole, duty station and pay grade MT Weather is technically in Loudoun County. Your tax dollars at work are Federal dollars.. Poor Clarke County can’t afford a reasonable Countywide Fire Department on thier own. But I guess that’s OK if someone else pays for it?

  9. Curiosity killed the cat says:

    I do believe that the services to stations within Clarke and Warren County go both ways. For instance I heard on my scanner the other night where Rescue company 6 was third due to Boyce. They were placed in service by Enders – think it said company 1 which had an ALS provider on scene. Seems that some are trying to undercut credit that is due to Shenandoah Farms.

    Last I heard fire departments and their personnel (whether paid and/or volunteer) were a brotherhood.

    Walk a mile in their shoes and remember it seems that just about anything can be printed truth or not and some run with whatever they read and not what they are seeing. There is a world beyond your scanned…for instance I saw that there was an ambulance crew with back up that responded to a call tonight from Shenandoah Farms and they were back at the station during the storm that rolled through – seems they were ready to roll for the next emergency that God forbid may have occured during the storm.

    Take the commercial where the lady says that everything on the internet is true and the guy asks where you read that and she said on the internet…she then says that she has a date from the internet with a “french model” and a man who is definitely not a model appears and says Bon Jour….Shenandoah Farms Fire and Resuce is not portraying themselves as that French model but instead as the fire department that they are!!!