CCVFD replenishes ranks after walkout

Published 12:07 am Thursday, May 23, 2024

CLEVELAND — After more than a dozen firefighters resigned from the Cleveland Community Volunteer Fire Department a few weeks ago, the department’s board commissioned a third party to conduct an investigation into CCVFD’s ability to continue providing fire service to its coverage area. 

In a letter, Keith Bost, the managing partner of Management Solutions for Emergency Services, the third party agency, said that in talking with the county fire officials, they seemed “very happy” with the level of service the department is providing.

Bost reported that he asked if the county had observed a reduction in service since the roughly 15 firefighters departed, to which the marshal said, “No.”

Bost added, “I would agree, as our staff pulled your response times since May 1, and it seems that you have shaved around 30 seconds off this month’s vs. last month’s (response times).”

Additionally, Bost noted that his staff noticed that the department had “improved (its) personnel response by an average of one person per call this month compared to the previous month.”

In North Carolina, fire departments are supposed to have 15 personnel at a central station and four additional personnel for every substation in their coverage areas. With 15 people departing at once, it raised concerns about the CCVFD’s ability to continue meeting those numbers and not risk impacting the NCRRS/ISO rating.

On Monday at a CCVFD Board meeting, President Mike Eller, said the department has replenished those ranks with, returning to a 37-man roster like it had before the walkout. 

Bost confirmed both of these items in his letter.

“Since your fire department has a main station and one sub-station, you must have 19 firefighters on your roster, and you have 37 firefighters,” Bost said in the letter. “These numbers mean you are not at risk of losing your rating because of the walkout.”

Bost pointed out that “the two local government entities that contract with the department (Rowan County and Cleveland) seem happy with your current level of protection. In looking at your data, you seem to have replenished your staffing levels almost back to the level before the walkout.”

Bost’s letter reported a silver lining from the walkout.

“If your fire department was divided before the walkout, and they left, and now you have fresh blood helping you push forward, it may have been the best thing for the community for the problem to come to a head, and your fire department lived through it,” Bost said in the letter.

Bost further reported that some past members said they believed that walkout leaders used them. 

“Some of them may be coming back, so again, your fire department looks to be on the uphill path of this matter and with the data, you have quickly climbed out of the hole and made your way back up,” Bost’s letter said. 

A Facebook post was the primary method of levying the allegations against the department and its administration. The post was lengthy and contained several mentions of impropriety but was published anonymously. 

Multiple attempts were made by the Salisbury Post to get comments from the aggrieved parties, but none were returned. 

Bost’s letter addressed the allegations in the post, saying, “Your board has taken note of the things said with the long message posted on social media and has identified ways to improve your service, so you took the negative and used parts of it to make positive changes within the organization which shows us that instead of fighting the negative, you took a lot of it as constructive criticism, which is commendable, as most people fight who is fighting them, but you did not do that.”

Bost concluded his letter with a message to the department: “We feel that you should seize the moment to push your organization upward because you have a large influx of new people with new energy who just joined to help you improve, so use it to improve to levels higher than you were.”