Three Stokes fire departments on probation

Three Stokes County volunteer fire departments, Pinnacle, Double Creek and Stokes-Rockingham, have been placed on probation following a county-wide inspection by the State Fire Marshal’s office.

Stokes County Fire Marshal Brian Booe said Pinnacle and Stokes-Rockingham were placed on probation because they had twice failed to respond to a structure fire or fire alarm with number of firefighters and equipment required by the state.

“The state fire marshal requires that you have a fire engine and four personnel on every structure fire and fire alarm,” said Booe. “They did respond, but they did not respond with the minimum state requirements.”

As a result both departments will have to submit monthly reports to the State Fire Marshal’s office on every structure fire and fire alarm indicating they have responded with the appropriate staff and equipment.

“They will have to do this for a 12-month period,” said Booe. “Once the state sees they have met this requirement then they will be taken off of probation. If they have an incident during this time period where they don’t meet the requirements then the state will come back in and do another review of their records and they could go to a Class 10 fire district which would mean no insurance coverage. The probation does not impact the classification at this point.”

Double Creek Volunteer Fire Department was placed on probation because it failed to meet the state training requirements.

“They found that they only had eight out of 21 members who had met the requirement of 36 hours of training,” said Booe. “They will have to submit monthly training rosters to both us and the state fire marshal for a period of 12 months. They got a plan of action on the day of inspection and we will be assisting them with developing a training schedule to ensure they are doing monthly training. Fire departments have to offer a minimum of four hours of training each month.”

Booe said residents in the area of the departments that were put on probation can be assured that they will still receive quality service in the event of a fire.

“If there is a structure fire or a fire alarm they are typically going to dispatch four departments,” he said. “If there is minimal manpower during the day then there may be additional departments dispatched.

“It is not unusual for a department to be placed on probation according to what the inspector from the state told us,” he added. “Because of recruitment and retention problems a lot of departments throughout the state are having a hard time meeting the one engine and four people requirement, especially during the day time.

“Probation is not a bad thing,” he added. “It typically brings the department together as a group and they work on a common goal to improve. That happened at Walnut Cove. Everybody saw a need to work together on a problem and they ended up improving their fire rating.”

Nicholas Elmes may be reached at 336-591-8191 or on Twitter @NicholasElmes.