N.C. county investigating possible realignment of fire service districts
"In other words, this current board might decide to reorganize the county fire department... take it out of existence," a Vance County commissioner said
By Tyler Davis
Henderson (N.C.) Daily Dispatch
HENDERSON, N.C. — A motion to direct Vance County staff to investigate the possibility of reorganizing and realigning the county's fire service districts barely squeaked by the Board of Commissioners at their meeting last Monday.
Chairwoman Yolanda Feimster broke a 3-3 tie in favor of the resolution.
The committee discussed the possibility of moving the southern and southeastern portions of the Golden Belt District into the Bearpond Service District and moving the eastern portion of the Golden Belt into the Cokesbury district. They also discussed a "possible reorganization" of the Vance County Fire Department, as Assistant County Manager Chris Dillon described at the meeting. All of that would be hammered out through discussions with the Vance County Fire and Rescue Association and fire departments in the county.
Commissioner Archie Taylor asked why the board was bringing up the issue again — two years ago, he said, they put it to bed. Taylor also mentioned that he was only concerned about the possibility of reorganizing the VCFD.
Commissioners have mulled the possibility of breaking up VCFD and having the Vance County Rescue Squad take over its coverage of the Golden Belt District, as the Dispatch reported in 2021. That idea has never gained majority support from the board, however.
"A previous board decided that issue, we have a board now, and we're fixing to have a vote, in just a minute, and this current board will decide the issue again," said Commissioner Dan Brummitt.
"In other words, this current board might decide to reorganize the county fire department... take it out of existence," said Taylor.
"They may well do that," said Brummitt, "they may well do that."
Hester asked whether commissioners could nix the part about reorganizing the VCFD and focus solely on realigning the fire service districts. Commissioner Leo Kelly agreed and rescinded his second. Brummitt did not amend his motion and received another second from Commissioner Carolyn Faines.
Before the commissioners voted, Carolyn Faines wondered whether anybody thought the board would willingly make decisions that would "harm the county and the people of Vance County." She said that some are unwilling to deal with change.
"Changes happen daily," said Faines.
She stated that other counties get along fine with only volunteer fire departments, and asked commissioners to come together to make the best decision for the county.
Taylor proposed an amendment to leave out the portion about reorganizing the VCFD. Feimster called for a vote on Brummitt's motion, which passed 4-3.
Hester noted that two volunteer firefighters had already come forward to speak against the plan. Feimster replied that it was imperative that the commissioners hear all points of view on the topic going forward, and that discussions would involve every fire department in the county.
"That dialogue is very necessary in this case," said Feimster.
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