Many of us were left confused and baffled by the recent events with the Gainesville Fire Department several weeks ago. Most of us, unfamiliar with the hierarchy involved with the Prince William County hybrid system of firefighter, were left scratching our respective heads over how a chief could move his family into the firehouse, set up his own fiefdom, use county funds to support the fiefdom, and basically have no accountability to the taxpayers via the county employees or BOCS.

Similarly, some of us wondered how the BOCS could not have known about the apparent violations of power and authority going on at Gainesville Fire Department. How accountable are they for this mess? How come the Gainesville Supervisor knew nothing about these rather unconventional practices, or did he?

BOCS Chairman, Corey Stewart has called for audits of all the volunteer fire departments in the county, similar to the one that Gainesville just had. This ought to stir up a good dose of territorialism with all the firehouses.

According to the News and Messenger,

The audit found that the department had ineffective governance and oversight, failed to adhere to company bylaws, failed to manage company operations, lacked proper training certificates and lacked the ability to provide adequate fire and rescue service.

Stewart said that there is no chance that Prince William County will abandon its system of using volunteers as well as paid career firefighters.

“To replace the volunteers, we don’t want to do that. They save us about $30 million a year,” he said. “We’re always going to have a mixed system of volunteers and career.”

Still, Stewart said he wanted to know that conditions similar to those at the Gainesville department don’t exist at the county’s other 11 volunteer fire companies.

It sounds like Corey Stewart just might be on the right track here. While the volunteer fire departments are privately owned, the lion’s share of their income comes from the public coffers. They operate fairly independently from the rest of the county. If they operate on public funds, there needs to be public oversight.

The News and Messenger gives a fair amount of county history as it relates to the fire companies. It is an informative read.

18 Thoughts to “Stewart Calls for Fire Department Audits”

  1. Mom

    While I don’t disagree that the funding and administration of the volunteer departments are probably long overdue for an audit, it strikes me that this is nothing more than Corey shamelessly riding yet another wave of publicity. Let’s see, there was cutting the real property tax, the rezoning moratorium, illegal aliens, blaming Richmond for our transportation woes and now the fire department. I can’t wait till he takes a positioin on Math Investigations. Funny how he’s been on the Board for 5 years and this is the first mention of the FD ills, right when he needs a positive public image boost. Color me cynical but I’ll be he couldn’t tell the difference between a tow truck and a rescue squad.

  2. Better late than never, or better never than late?

  3. IVAN

    Anyone figured out how much the county will have to fork out to get to the bottom of this mess, and where they will get the money from?

  4. Corey sacrificing more people at the altar of his political career.

    Considering the state of the economy, it’s pretty crappy to do this. Although I’ve heard that fire departments are traditionally one of the most racist and sexist institutions around.

  5. Mom

    “Anyone figured out how much the county will have to fork out to get to the bottom of this mess”

    A better question might be has anyone figured out how much the County Exec. expects to recoup from this exercise. Think about it, the Volunteer units own all sorts of real and tangible property cumulatively worth millions. If they disolve enough stations they could sell/auction off millions in real estate. Just a thought from the dark and cynical side.

  6. Pat.Herve

    I wonder why none of the volunteer fire fighters complained about the chief living in the firehouse.

  7. Moon-howler

    I think several of them did, Pat. That is what started the ball rolling.

    Mom, I sort of thought the same thing but reined myself in. Corey is good at hopping aboard the opportunity train. I will reserve judgment for a while.

    There seems to be so much cross-over with what is fire department and what is county I know I will never sort it all out.

  8. Alanna

    If I’m not wrong, one of Supervisor Stirrup’s newsletter recently credited himself with a tanker for the Gainesville Fire Department. It’s hard to believe he wasn’t aware of the situation.

  9. Moon-howler

    Hmmmm…does anyone have a copy of that newsletter. How did he get them a new tanker? Whip out his checkbook?

    Transparency seems to be the missing word here when we discuss the PWC fire dept. It is so confusing that most of us do not understand it. Therefore, when something is amiss, no one notices.

  10. Juturna

    Read Chap 9 of the County Code.

  11. SecondAlamo


    I get the distinct impression you actually hate this country, and that’s one of our great freedoms, you can leave anytime!

  12. hello

    I get the same feeling SA…

  13. hello

    I don’t really understand why anyone would think of this as a bad thing. Looking into any waste of tax dollars in a time like this is a good thing. I suppose some people will just bash away no matter what Corey does. I get the feeling if Corey saved a little girls cat from a tree some people here would cry out that he just did it for his political career.

    Also, Mackie maybe you should think twice before spewing out that fire stations are the “most racist and sexist institutions around”. I happen to know three volunteer fire fighters (one of which is a woman) and your ignorant statement couldn’t be farther from the truth. Yet another example of you blindly calling someone and/or an entire group of people racist. Unbelievable!

  14. ShellyB

    Why do all the most embarrassing governmental disgraces in Virginia come from the Gainesville district?

  15. Moon-howler

    Shellyb, I am not even going to touch that one with a 10 foot pole.

    Hello, Please note that I stated Corey might be on the right track. Taking the glass is half full position this time. I am reserving judgement and trusting him to do the right thing this time. I am sure he is capable if he will think for himself and not listen to his self serving acquaintances.

  16. ShellyB

    Corey is not the problem in Gainesville. I’d prefer him to the Angry Little Sidekick we have now.

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