Chesterfield volunteer fire stations respond to fraction of calls

Posted at 6:33 PM, Apr 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-04-24 22:11:20-04

CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WTVR) -- Chesterfield volunteer fire stations, which were built to improve response times and provide residents comfort, now only respond to calls a fraction of the time.

In fact, there are only two all volunteer stations still standing: the Wagstaff Circle Station off Atkins road and the Enon Station in Chester.

A CBS 6 investigation revealed that since July 2013, Wagstaff Circle has responded to calls in their area 9.23 percent of the time. The Enon Station responded to calls 7.79 percent of the time.

"Should residents in those areas be concerned for their safety," CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George asked Chesterfield Assistant Fire Chief Robbie Dawson.

"No, absolutely not," Dawson responded, saying that full-time, career firefighters are able to cover the workload of the volunteers.

However, Dawson said those numbers speak to dwindling volunteers in the County.

In fact, while over 500 Chesterfield residents used to volunteer to fight fires, today that number is 163.

Dawson said higher national standards make volunteering for a department harder than in years past.

"Training requirements when I first started were pretty small compared to the requirements today," Dawson said.

But Dawson said the county is not considering consolidating the free standing units because when volunteers do respond, they can be lifesavers.

"The Fire service in the United States began as a service organization," Dawson said.