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6 months into the job, interim fire chief says Petersburg has 'made a lot of progress'

Petersburg Interim Fire Chief Chris Magann
Posted at 6:14 PM, May 18, 2023

PETERSBURG, Va. -- It sounds like a big deal. Two of the Petersburg Fire Department's four engines were out of service recently. But Interim Fire Chief Chris Magann called it a small setback in what has been overall progress since he took over the department late last year.

"We’re a better Petersburg Fire Department today and we’re going to continue to get better," he said. "Unfortunately we’re working through the process of correcting a lot of issues from the past with apparatus.”

That includes the arrival of a new tiller truck and engine in June and money budgeted for training new firefighters.

“We did just graduate a school of five pre-certified, they’re in the stations, they’re working on shift now," he said. "We are in the process of doing a Sergeant's Process now, that process is in the early stages right now but it is moving forward.”

Petersburg Interim Fire Chief Chris Magann
Petersburg Interim Fire Chief Chris Magann

Once those 10 promotions are made, it will open up 10 fire fighting positions below.

Magann said there's also money in the budget to repair broken equipment.

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"We are sending the apparatus out that are breaking down for repairs as soon as we can get them out," he said. "Unfortunately there’s a parts delay, just like almost anything."

Magann took over the department six months ago as interim chief when then Petersburg Fire Chief Tina Watkins left the position under unclear circumstances.

Petersburg Fire Department

In 2022, the CBS 6 Problem Solvers reported on staffing shortages plaguing the department. The Problem Solvers also uncovered a years-long pattern of unkempt equipment maintenance at the Petersburg Fire Department.

Magann said despite the department's uneven past, things are starting to look up.

"We’ve made a lot of progress," he said.

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