The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department is working on ways to improve service by reorganizing units and tackling recruitment and staffing challenges.
The changes were discussed at a Fairfax County Board of Supervisors’ safety and security committee meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 28).
The FCFRD is focused on using data to inform changes to operations, guiding how and when medics are converted to ambulances and where units are located, department officials told the committee.
According to a presentation delivered by Fairfax County Fire Chief John Butler and Operations Chief Dan Shaw, the department reorganized and reassessed its emergency medical services delivery between 2021 and 2022.
In January 2022, eight advanced life support units were converted to basic life support units. The following month, four more advanced life support units were converted.
The FCFRD has also studied ways to improve its EMS dispatch protocol and overall service delivery and deployment. In September, for example, the department implemented a new emergency medical protocol to ensure needs are properly understood as resources are dispatched to handle emergencies.
In January, the department plans to convert another eight advance life support units to basic life support. A paramedic will remain at each fire station.
The department also plans to introduce a new EMS specialist position that can offer a higher skill set and bring more advanced intervention and equipment to the incident. Shaw said the position is a big moment for the fire department.
“This allows the opportunity to employ a paramedic and deliver a higher level of service,” Shaw said.
Still, a national shortage of paramedics is a challenge due to a notable decrease in people pursuing public safety professions overall, officials said. To maintain its minimum staffing of 363 personnel, the FCFRD relies heavily on mandatory overtime.
The department has around 100 vacancies, according to FCFRD spokesperson Ashley Hildebrandt.
“While we are not immune to the recruitment challenges being experienced nationwide throughout the fire service, our department has worked, and continues to work, diligently to increase recruitment efforts to ensure the residents of Fairfax County continue to receive the high quality services the department is known for,” Hildebrandt said.
Springfield District Supervisor Pat Herrity said he continues to be concerned by the drop in the number of paramedics.
“Fairfax County needs to do better than the national trend and the national average,” he said.
The fire and rescue department is currently in the midst of analyzing its staffing model and hours of overtime recorded by personnel.
At the meeting, Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay countered Herrity’s assertion that the county needs to step up its efforts to address staffing challenges by stressing that the county and its public safety agencies are investing time and resources to tackle the issue.
“It is disgraceful to the people who are killing themselves recruiting people,” McKay said, adding that he’s “tired of this nonsense.”
McKay said repeating incorrect statistics about the number of vacancies — particularly in the police department — works against the county’s goal of recruiting more people and establishing the progress that has been made.
After reporting 206 vacancies in early April, the Fairfax County Police Department welcomed over 100 new trainees across two academy classes this year. A cohort of 56 recruits this spring was trumpeted as the FCPD Academy’s largest class in almost 10 years, and it was followed in the summer by an even bigger session with 59 people.
According to McKay, the FCPD’s vacancy rate is now closer to 127 positions.
The county’s Department of Public Safety Communications, which operates the 911 center, has also chipped away at its vacancies to the point where the department anticipated reducing required overtime this fall.
Good Wednesday evening, Fairfax County. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier…
Nearly two years after updating its vision for the future of McLean Central Park, the Fairfax County Park Authority is ready to start work on some of the planned upgrades….
After a soft opening in early February, Down the Line Sports Center will officially introduce itself to Fairfax City tomorrow (Thursday). The event will kick off at 5 p.m. with a ribbon-cutting, followed by a meet-and-greet with six professional pickleball players visiting from around the country.
Restonians now have a chance to own a piece of their community’s history. Reston Museum, which is located at Lake Anne Plaza, will hold a raffle over the next month…
Dreaming of small-town charm with big-city convenience? Look no further than 7156 Main St in Clifton, Virginia! Nestled just 30 miles from the heart of Washington D.C., this picturesque property offers the best of both worlds.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the city to find tranquility in this quaint, historic town. With its tree-lined streets and friendly community atmosphere, Clifton is the perfect place to call home. Yet, with its close proximity to the nation’s capital, you’ll never be far from the excitement and opportunities of urban living.
Imagine weekends exploring local shops, dining at charming cafes, and enjoying outdoor adventures in nearby parks. Then, commute to D.C. for work or play, soaking in all the culture, entertainment, and career opportunities the city has to offer.
Great Clips at South Lakes Village Center (Reston, Virginia) is seeking hair donors to participate in the Wigs for Kids program this Valentines Week. If you meet the minimum requirements and would like to donate your hair for children fighting cancer, we would love to host you in our salon this Valentine’s Week for a free haircut.
Hair donations must be a minimum of 12 inches
Hair donations must be clean and stored/packaged completely dry.
Hair donations cannot be permed, color-treated, or highlighted.
Temporary coloring or highlights that wash out are acceptable but must be completely washed out before cutting. Gray hair is accepted.
Participate in the 32nd Annual Van Metre 5K Run, a race that goes further than 3.1 miles, and every stride you take supports Children’s National Hospital. The Van Metre 5K Run donates 100% of proceeds to Children’s National Hospital and