ISLE OF WIGHT COUNTY, Va. (WAVY) – For months, a battle has been brewing between the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors and volunteer fire departments. The dispute is over who should have ownership of volunteer fire department vehicles.
The county wants ownership of fire department vehicles, but volunteers firefighters claim the county just wants control. The issue came to a head at Thursday’s Board of Supervisor’s meeting.
There was standing room only at the meeting. Several people came to express their support of the volunteer fire departments’ right to continue owning their own vehicles.
“I think there is some concern that all [the firefighters] have built and worked so hard for is being pulled away,” said Karen Brower, an Isle of Wight County resident.
The county wants to own all department vehicles in the volunteer fire and rescue squads. It’s what they call a vehicle use agreement. Since the majority of vehicles are paid for with tax dollars, county officials said those vehicles should be owned by the county.
Residents feel the county is just trying to take over what volunteer fire departments have worked so hard to maintain.
“The county government has decided to repossess all fire engines, ambulances, and emergency vehicles that are lovingly maintained, cared for by our volunteers,” said Albert Burckard, an Isle of Wight County resident.
County officials have been trying to come to a resolution on the vehicle use agreement for months. Little progress has been made because volunteer fire departments feel they are being pushed around.
“You drew a line in the sand on this issue, and you all are still bullies,” said Fred Mitchell, President of the Carrollton Volunteer Fire Department.
It seems the tough talk from residents and volunteer firefighters struck a chord with the board. They voted three to two against the vehicle use agreement. This means volunteer fire departments will keep ownership of their vehicles.
Buzz Bailey (Newport), Rex Alphin (Carrsville) and Rudy Jefferson (Hardy) all voted no against the agreement. Al Casteen (Smithfield) and Delores Darden (Windsor) both voted yes.