An audit of internal processes at five volunteer fire and rescue companies found problems at all five. However, almost all of the departments have made improvements in the past year.
The audit was meant to check on internal controls for several processes, such as financial reporting, cash disbursements, or contracts and purchases. Arcola Volunteer Fire Department, Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company, Loudoun County Volunteer Rescue Squad, Philomont Volunteer Fire Company, and Sterling Volunteer Rescue Squad all turned up areas where internal controls were not consistently performed and documented.
In particular, auditors found Arcola inconsistently performed processes in almost every area. Sterling Rescue had consistently performed controls in almost every area, but only kept documentation in half those areas.
The audits are of processes, and not financial audits. They turned up no financial irregularities.
Since the reports began in 2015, two companies have turned up control weaknesses that make them vulnerable to inaccurate financial reporting and fraud. In one case, the county government stopped contributing money to that company until it implemented sound policies and procedures. In both cases the companies complied.
The report, prepared by the firm of Cherry Bekaert, also followed up on the five volunteer companies audited last year. Lovettsville Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Lucketts Volunteer Fire and Purcellville Volunteer Rescue have all taken steps to remediate the weaknesses the auditors found. Sterling Volunteer Fire had not, according to the report.
Hamilton Rescue and Hamilton Fire companies, which were reviewed last year, are under a separate audit.
Assistant Chief Matt Tobia said he has spoken directly with the Sterling president, and the company is “100 percent committed to making the necessary changes.”
“I know that he has given this his undivided attention,” Tobia said. “I expect that they will come into full compliance very quickly.”