Turnover in the Chesterfield Fire & EMS has been averted at least temporarily by implementation of Phases 1 and 2 of a new pay plan.
That’s the word from Chief Loy Senter, who spoke during a work session with the county supervisors on April 28.
Firefighters were leaving to pursue better pay or work in a field that had a better work/life balance, he said. He noted that turnover was 6.8 percent over a five-year period and over 7 percent for three consecutive years. However, the current fiscal year has a turnover of only 2.8 percent, Senter said.
A number of firefighters delayed their retirement due to the new pay scale, he said. But as many as 40 will be retiring in three years. “We need to begin planning” for that, he said.
In regard to helping adjacent areas on calls, Senter said that rural areas saw a decline over the past year, but there was an increased demand in Richmond “due to civil unrest.”
He noted that the county experienced a 700-year flood last August and an ice storm in February.
April 16 blaze
More recently, six people died in a fire in the Dale District on April 16. “We’re still trying to determine how it started,” he said, adding that the department is waiting on reports from the medical examiner’s office.
There were no injuries to firefighting staff in the incident, he said. Four children and two adults died in the blaze at a two-story home in the 9900 block of Glass Road, east of Courthouse Road and south of Hull Street Road, according to reports. Three survived. A gofundme page was set up to help with burial expenses.
Senter said the six deaths were the most from a fire since five people died in a blaze about five years ago.
“There were probably more people living there than should have been living there at the time,” he said.
During a press conference on April 16, he said the call came in at 12:11 a.m. and the first firefighters arrived on scene at 12:17 a.m. to what he described as “insurmountable odds.”
Dr. Alexander Samuel, the county’s health district director, noted that self-scheduling is available at the regional mass vaccination site at Virginia State University. Go to vaccinefinder.org.
Approximately 60,000 people in the county have received at least one vaccine, he said. In addition, an estimated 80% of the 82,484 who had been vaccinated at VSU through April 24 are from Chesterfield.
“We’re number one in the state for populations over 200,000,” supervisor Jim Ingle (R-Bermuda) said.
General Services Director Clay Bowles said the school district is planning to have two electric school buses soon.
In addition, the county will begin retrofitting street lights with LED bulbs. These will pay for themselves within 18 months, he said.
The county is also looking into adding solar energy at 17 buildings, including county government and schools.
Tommy Tucker, director of emergency communications, noted that the county plans to have a Motorola Premier CAD 1 system implemented by May 25. The police records management system is set to be updated with the computer-aided design in July, while the sheriff’s jail management system will follow later.