Conservative Viewpoints

"Government is not the solution…it is the problem" -Ronald Reagan

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West End Fire Station: Has the time come?

Posted by Stephen on February 7, 2007

If you ask Council Woman Nancy Dowdy the answer is yes. “I think it is one of those responsibilities that is at the top for government. We have a responsibility to protect citizens and I absolutely support a west end fire station.”

If you ask Council Woman Lorie Smith the answer will be similar. “I completely support the west end fire station. I think it is time to make good on a promise we made in 1986.”

Councilman Frank Lucente, on the other hand, has other thoughts pertaining to the need of a fire station in the area of Lew Dewitt and Lucente offered numbers to contradict the notion that the city is playing with fire by not having a fire station on the rapidly developing west side of Waynesboro.

“According to ISO standards, and as I understand it that’s an important measurement for success, according to those standards we rank in the top 10% in the nation,” shared Lucente.

Lucente went on to attempt to make sense of a complicated scoring system utilized by the ISO. It is a point system. One of the categories that concerned Lucente lies in the area of dispatch of services. “Out of a possible five points we only get a 1.5. Why that is I don’t know, but it seems to me that we need to discuss that.”

Lucente continued to present the argument that what Waynesboro needs to focus on are the little things. “We are basically a 4 on the scale and with just three points we can be a three. I think we can get to a three by doing the little things. I don’t think we need to spend the money to build a whole new station. It won’t improve our ISO numbers very much.”

Lucente made the comment on more then one occasion that once a west end fire station is built “we’re married to it.” Lucente consistently supported Chief Scott’s assertion that first and foremost the city needed more paid firemen. “I’m sold on getting more firemen,” stated Lucente.

Mayor Tom Reynolds weighed in to address the multiple comments Lucente made about the cost of the west end project.

“It’s clear, and I think we can all agree that staffing is the major problem. Well, the majority of the annual cost of this project is tied to personnel. The cost increase in personnel is the same whether in one location or in multiple locations,” said Reynolds.

Lucente responded by repeating his concern that “I’m not going to do the most expensive thing first. Let’s do the little things to improve response times and see where we are.”

The goal, according to Chief Scott, is for response time to calls of any nature to be four minutes or less. Last year more then a few eyebrows were raised after response times were reported to be higher then 8 minutes after a home was lost to a fire on the west end. The Chief clearly feels that to get Waynesboro in line with national standards a fire station is needed on the west end of

Much of the concern expressed by Lucente centers on the cost to tax payers.

The cost is estimated to be in the neighborhood of 2.1 million dollars.


$1.2 million



*based on 8,000 square foot facility

The long term concerns lie in the annual costs which are projected to be significant. Operating costs are estimated to be 590K dollars a year, with nearly 90% of that tied to personnel which include four additional firefighters per shift, totaling 12 new personnel.

There was one lingering question put to rest by Chief Scott. There had been reports that the city owned property which is located adjacent to the old Waynesboro Outlet Village Mall that could be used to house a west end fire station.

Equally important to our discussion is making the right choice in terms of location. The wrong choice could be just as detrimental as not building a station on the west end,” shared Chief Scott.

Utilizing a power point presentation it was clear that Scott was talking about the Outlet Village property. Scott explained that this property, while economically attractive, was to far outside of the city.

“It basically places us on the county line and the radius of the city that could be effectively covered from this location is greatly reduced by it’s proximity to the county line. It’s just to far out. Lew Dewitt on the other hand places us in a strategic location that will not only serve our citizens well today, but into the future as well,” clarified Scott.

Reynolds closed the conversation by stating that there was agreement, in part. “I think there is agreement that we need to address personnel needs right now. We can continue to have discussion between each of us on council and with city staff regarding other issues. For now, we know we need personnel, but I believe many good conversations can come out of this presentation and the thoughts we have shared here tonight.”

One thought, in the end, is that this idea of a west end fire station may be an idea whose time has come.

Stephen Winslow is the executive editor of Conservative Viewpoints.


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