Editor: I write to support County Chairwoman Phyllis J. Randall’s observation in her State of the County Address indicating that our career firefighters are undercompensated by comparison to adjoining fire and rescue systems (Walking Through Fire and Out the Door: How Can Loudoun Keep Its Firefighters?, Thursday June 30).
As a volunteer fire fighter and company president I have firsthand knowledge of the need for this situation to be rectified consistent with the advice from the combined fire and rescue system’s senior leadership. However, I would like to add a dimension to this conversation often overlooked when discussion of costs of the provision of high quality emergency response services occurs: that of the economic benefits to our citizens of the volunteer contribution to such response.
The article mentions that there are 800 active volunteers in Loudoun who respond to emergency calls collaboratively with career staff. The direct compensation for their time and service is zero. The economic benefit of deferred or forgone salaries and benefits to an active volunteer cadre accrue to all citizens in Loudoun and reduce the direct operating costs of our combined system in the aggregate. Such savings include the costs associated with volunteer owned and financed facilities and apparatus (like the Tower Ladder pictured in the article).
To be clear, I fully support any action that would improve the compensation and the follow-on benefits of keeping our career firefighters in Loudoun. Yet, I would like it to be known that maintaining an active volunteer presence in Loudoun already contributes to enormous cost savings and therefore should provide additional incentive to invest more fully in the needs of a rapidly growing combined fire and rescue system and in particular to the compensation needs of the career element of our system.
Bradley J. Quin, President, Fire Fighter
Purcellville Volunteer Fire Company