Budget cuts for Hanover Fire and EMS

HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - Fewer firefighters, smaller crews, and help coming from farther away - that's just some of the predicted fallout as Hanover Fire and EMS prepares to slash its budget.

It used to be political suicide to cut funding for firefighters, but that's the reality in Hanover County. The department must cut $400,000 from its budget.

Hanover firefighters say they're trying to do more, with less. Budget cuts across all county departments are now affecting public safety.

"No one likes this," said Battalion Chief Willie Jones. "The fire chief, the Board of Supervisors, especially the fire service. We don't like this."

Fire and EMS has to trim $400,000 from its operating budget. Firefighters say one way they're cutting back is by having two firefighters ride in an engine instead of three. The problem is, firefighters say it's not safe for only two people to barge into a burning building.

"There are times when you have those two-men engines in the Western area, far out, it really adversely affects some of the ways we do our firefighting," Jones said.

Hanover fire usually trains 60 new volunteer firefighters each year. Now that number might be cut in half.

"We need more help," he said. "We need to bring in 18 more people in the fire service and EMT service today to make sure they meet the needs of the people."

If you talk to members of the Board of Supervisors, they say their hands are tied. There's less tax revenue coming in this year and state law requires them to balance the budget.

The county is cutting more than $4 million from its general budget next year.

Ed Via is on the Board of Supervisors. He says every county department is going to have to make sacrifices - even public safety.

"It really boils down to the fact that we're going to all have to learn to work together to get through this," Via said. "We can't single out any groups."

Hanover Fire says rural areas might be affected the most. The majority of firefighters will be posted in the areas that have the most emergency calls.

There's a public meeting coming up on the county budget. That meeting is on April 4th at 7 p.m. at the courthouse.

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