Citizens will have a chance to comment on a proposal for Roanoke-Wildwood Volunteer Fire Department to extend its 4.5-mile service district to 6 miles during a hearing Monday, Nov. 4, at 6 p.m. The public hearing will be held prior to the start of the Warren County commissioners’ meeting at the Warren County Armory Civic Center, 501 US Hwy. 158 business east, Warrenton, N.C.
Roanoke-Wildwood VFD plans to cover areas in Warren County that Virginia-based Ebony Fire Department will drop.
According to RWVFD Chief Lorenzo Wilkins, the additional coverage area will be extra work for his department.
“It’s a nice size area that we are adding,” he said. “Response time for us is pretty good. Due to where it is, getting there might take a few more minutes, but it will still be a reasonable time.”
Wilkins said that a few members of his department live in that area now, and there’s a good chance that Roanoke-Wildwood will add a substation there.
“It would be good for the citizens in that area, and we are working with the county to help make the situation better,” Wilkins said.
A substation would be outfitted with personnel and equipment that could respond to a call faster than Ebony or Roanoke-Wildwood’s main location.
The area that will be annexed will at some point pay the Roanoke-Wildwood district fire taxes.
By adding the additional area, Roanoke-Wildwood hopes to not only gain a substation in the future, but also increase its volunteers.
According to both Wilkins and Warren County Commissioner Tare “T” Davis, who is the fire commissioner and lives at Lake Gaston, the area exchange from Ebony Fire Department to Roanoke-Wildwood is seamless, and every citizen is covered.
Wilkins said that fire departments on the North Carolina/Virginia border share a mutual aid agreement, and he hopes that the Ebony Fire Department will still offer Roanoke-Wildwood assistance when it is needed.
He explained that the N.C. Office of State Fire Marshal conducts standard inspections and requires fire departments to have certain equipment on their trucks, a certain amount of membership for stations and the amount of area they cover, and information provided to the state about reporting to calls, for example.
According to Ebony FD Chief Keith King: “We are a Virginia-based fire department, not North Carolina-based. They wanted us to go by North Carolina rules. We don’t go by two states’ rules.”
At a town hall meeting with lake citizens last week, Davis mentioned that there are certain classes required by North Carolina that the fire department’s needs to pass for certification. Warren County offered to help pay for the classes that Ebony FD did not take.