Archived Story

Franklin gets $900,000 to hire nine firefighters

Published 9:56am Wednesday, January 16, 2013

BY ANDREW FAISON/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
andrew.faison@tidewaternews.com

FRANKLIN—The Franklin Fire and Rescue Department will hire nine firefighters after City Council on Monday voted unanimously to accept a $902,000 federal grant.

Each position is estimated to cost a total of $50,000 including pay and benefits, and will give the department 24 employees. Hiring is expected to begin in early March.

Franklin Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn had reservations about accepting the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant because the funding will run out in two years.

“I am in no way against this grant,” said Johnson-Ashburn. “There is definitely a need for trained firefighters. My concern is that our budget has to support these employees after the grant’s two-year period.”

Franklin City Manager Randy Martin said the cost of the additional staff will offset the overtime costs under current staffing levels. Over an extended period of time, overtime adds up to an additional firefighter.

“In the department we have quite a bit of overtime because of the limited staffing,” Martin said. “You will see a great reduction in our overtime costs and that will reduce the overall budget.”

Franklin Chief Vince Holt said the grant was looked into after local funding wasn’t available for the positions. The increase in staffing was needed to respond to medical emergencies and fires.

“Very commonly we have the majority of our shift out on calls for ambulance service and none in reserve for a fire call,” Holt said.

Due to some emergency response protocols, the department sometimes has to transport patients to Obici Hospital and as far away as Norfolk Sentara.

“We want to hire individuals that are firefighter and emergency medical technicians because we want our team cross-trained so they can handle any job,” Holt said.

Franklin has 15 firefighters, after recently hiring three in January, and will be able to fully staff three shifts with the additional nine.

“I commend the department for the load that (they) have undertaken,” said Councilman Greg McLemore. “I am impressed with the amount of calls (they) respond to daily.”

Holt said he currently has four responders for two ambulances.

“This currently leaves only one staff member available for response on a fire engine, meaning they have to wait until volunteers arrive,” Holt said. “Volunteers are still very much needed in addition to our career staff.”

The hiring of extra staff also will allow the department to create a lieutenant position for each shift for career advancement. The position will have requirements including fire officer certifications.

“We have been lucky to not have so much in the way of turnover over the years,” he said. “Those that have left said the main reason they leave is the lack of career advancement.”

Holt said he would like to promote from within.

Three other localities in the state, including Lynchburg, Yorktown, and Hampton, were awarded the grant.

“We are definitely in exclusive company,” Martin said. “Not only in our state but in the nation.”

For information on the jobs, call the city’s personnel department at 562-8508.

 

  • simplifyingit

    how did this turn into a complete “thread” about one more than capable man? It is suppose to be about how we as taxpayers are supposed to compensate those 9 firefighters in 2015 when the federal grant ends? We are losing our personal budgets to another local, state, or federal “need” every month it seems like and you guys want to dispute whether or not one man is worthy of the job?
    Tuck will be just fine, he may just lead the guys at FFR to reassess and restructure everything they do! If i were some of those guys wearing gold badges i would be sweating bullets about my position right now, with a retired Portsmouth captain looking over my shoulder!

    But the point is heads up Franklin taxpayers your checks are getting smaller and tax bills getting larger. Uh Oh!!

    Suggest Removal

    • SandMan

      True, simplifyingit. Having Tuck on FF&R will be a great addition. Almost as great as McClenny getting back on FPD.

      Suggest Removal

  • Magnus

    well said rdarden you were right in the past and you are right this time also. THANK YOU

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  • rdarden

    Captain Tuck recently retired from the Portsmouth Fire Department. Ed was one of the most respected and admired officers in the PFD. I know many in the PFD that were sad to see him retire. He is in his early 50′s with a desire to continue to serve and enjoy the job in his hometown area of Franklin. He has more experience than most people in this area as far as firefighting and EMS experience goes. Ed is an excellent choice for FF&R, and I am also fortunate to call him a friend. His employment gives them a highly experienced firefighter/EMS provider but also gives them a great mentor that less tenured firefighters can look up to and emulate.

    As far as salaries goes, it is impossible for Franklin to compete with the larger localities in the 757 area. That is just due to the size of Franklin and the limited funds it has to work with. But I applaud the city manager of Franklin for helping FF&R come forward with the funding it needs to fully staff an engine company in the downtown station. The city has been very fortunate through the years that a major fire has not occurred during the short-staffed situation they have dealt with for years. While they perform a great service, the volunteer firefighter ranks are shrinking. Dependance on volunteers is becoming too risky for municipalities all over the US, not because of their desire and training, but availablity to respond.

    Nobody wants to pay more in taxes, but I would gladly pay for professional firefighters and EMS providers in my locality. Many will grumble about how expensive it is to employ these professionals. How would you answer that question when your home is on fire, and your loved ones are trapped? FF&R would be worth there weight in gold. Nobody wakes in the morning and says to themselves, “I think Im going to have a catastrophe today”.

    I applaud the men and women of the FF&R Department for the great job and service they provide daily! It’s great to see them get some much needed help to serve the citizens in their time of need! Kudos to Chief Holt and the City Manager for being leaders.

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    • SandMan

      Thank you, rdarden. By the way, “Dirty Joe”, Capt Tuck (ret)is 52,in excellent health & will be a great addition to FF&R. Who cares how long he’ll be there, but I’m sure, with his work ethic, it’ll be years. We grew up next to each other & Franklin should be proud to have a dedicated, Christian family man on it’s staff. Maybe you should return to badmouthing the coaching staff @ SHS!

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  • geographically challenged

    Joewiththedirt, before you speak of things such as educational requirements, educate yourself. EMS personnel are required to do continuous education. That would be one of the things the grant would pay for. CPR to restart your HEART is recertified every 2 yrs, ACLS to fix your heart attack, PALS to save your child, and ITLS to fix you when you fall off your roof or wreck your car are ALL 2 yr certifications. These are all in addition to the 72 hours of general continuing ed. a medic has to have completed every 3 yrs. Bloodborne Pathogens to keep you up to date on diseases is annual.

    I think Paramedic Tuck should be good to go… and YES I am a medic.

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    • simplifyingit

      i am glad you corrected joe but i just got to tell after a quick search of the provider list, there is no person in the state of va with the last name of Tuck that is certified to the paramedic level.

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      • RoyDeSoto

        From the state’s publicly accessible provider directory:

        Tuck Edward EMT/EN 12/31/2015 PORTSMOUTH FIRE, RESCUE & EMERGENCY SERVICES, SEDLEY VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT

        EMT/EN = Enhanced, a certification that applies extra training and skills beyond the basic EMT certification. The Enhanced provider, formerly known as a “Shock/Trauma Technician,” can administer several drugs and start IVs. They can not perform Paramedic level skills or administer the full range of medications available in EMS.

        From VA Office of EMS’s website:

        The Emergency Medical Technician-Enhanced Virginia Standard Curriculum represents the minimum required information to be presented within a course that leads to a Virginia EMT-Enhanced certification eligibility. All skills and subjects contained in the curriculum for EMT-Enhanced are covered in a minimum of 102 hours of instruction plus a minimum of 48 hours devoted to clinical rotations in the Emergency Department and in the field.

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  • SandMan

    I’m hearing Captain Tuck of Portsmouth Fire Dept (Ret) is one of the new hires. Good choice, Chief Holt!

    Suggest Removal

    • joewiththedirt

      Was it a good choice? I’m a little on the fence. No offense meant to captain Tuck.

      What was he hired to be? a captain or a fireman and parmedic? if he was hired to fill the officers role then it was a great choice. He has experience leading and has seen years of hazards in portsmouth that he can use to help our firemen with. But if he was hired to be a fireman, not so much. He is in his late 50s (isnt he?) and close to retirement…meaning he won’t be here long and really how is his health going to endure starting over again at the bottom? Can his body really endure the stress of going into fires with 20 year olds? And if he was hired to be a parmedic then wouldn’t he have to “retrain” on that since i am sure that captains, sergeants and chiefs in portsmouth do not attend to the ill. How long has it been since he cared for a injured person? How long would this training take? Half of the remaining time he plans to work? Does the training cost money? Is it less expensive to hire a younger person and train them and get years of service from that money spent? You see, i am just not sure why he was hired so i am on the fence about the sensibility of hiring him.Depends on the plan i guess.

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      • drewandmol

        I have worked along side Captain Tuck for several years. FFD and the citizens
        of Franklin have gotten a first class provider hiring him.
        Captain Tuck is professional, knowledgeable and can run CIRCLES around 20 year olds coming into the department.
        Whatever the city spent getting him, is well worth EVERY penny. If I lived in the city and needed care, I would be grateful to see him show up at my door!

        Suggest Removal

  • simplifyingit

    by that time, the economy will have rebounded and the city of franklin will be booming like those old gold rush towns of yesteryear!!! i joke.
    The taxpayer will be ask in 24 months to pay even more because those firefighters will be working OT every week, making same argument again to increase staff and make new spots for people who deserve promotions for working so hard.
    Hang on to your hats franklin taxpayers, the new city manager is just getting started!

    Suggest Removal

  • spdrewry

    So where does money come from to keep them working after 24 months?

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    • Baseball

      9 firefighters for 900,000. Thats 100,000 per person. How much does a firefighter make. To be sure thet are already trained and ready to go. everybody is already broke, where is the money gonna come from.

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      • jw

        In response to “how much do firefighters make?”
        —not enough!
        Of that $100,000, there is the cost of training, gear, salary, health insurance, retirement costs,etc..
        It is not all salary. I’m sure if you looked at Franklin’s starting pay scale, it would be in the middle to high 30′s. To some, that may be a decent salary, to others it may not. But you go find someone who is going to risk their lives and health for a complete stranger without question and then ask what it’s worth. From fires, car accidents, medical calls(being exposed to diseases, sickness, trauma) hazardous materials, shootings, cancer/heart problems, stress, and the list goes on and on. When you don’t need one, you feel they’re expensive, but when dialing 911 they are worth their weight in gold. And yes, as you may have surmised, I am a professional firefigher(not in Franklin) in this area for over 27yrs.

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      • mozilla343

        The funding will run out after 2 years of paying 9 firefighters an approximate salary of $50,000 (including benefits). That is clearly stated in second paragraph of the article. Not sure where you got $100,000 from…

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