Albemarle Co. Fire Department Concerned With Area Cost of Living

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Albemarle County Fire Rescue jacket Albemarle County Fire Rescue jacket
Tom Labelle, volunteer division chief Tom Labelle, volunteer division chief
Kostas Alibertis, fire and EMS board chair Kostas Alibertis, fire and EMS board chair

Some first responders who help keep Albemarle County safe are worried about high housing prices and what that means for the firefighting work force.

The Albemarle County Fire Department's annual report to the Albemarle County Board of Supervisors focuses on a shortage of affordable places to live.

“We know they're thinking about these issues. We just don't know if they realize that there's a volunteer fire rescue spin to these issues,” said Volunteer Division Chief Tom Labelle.

Labelle says his firefighters are concerned about how expensive it's getting to live in Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

"I don't think most people recognize that it's something that the fire rescue system is concerned about,” Labelle said.

The department's concerns mainly surround the retention of volunteer firefighters. A member who's been around longer has more experience, but they can't spend time volunteering without a good job and cheap enough living costs

"Instead of spending their extra time working at a second job or providing extra income, they're helping us out in the community by volunteering at the local fire rescue squad,” said Labelle.

“Up to 25 percent of our volunteer force live outside of Albemarle County and come back to Albemarle County to volunteer, so it'd be nice to be able to get those folks back into the communities,” said Kostas Alibertis, fire and EMS board chair.

Outside of living costs come costs associated to bring in a new member. The price tag for new gear alone is $3,000.

The fire department hopes Albemarle County supervisors will take their concerns as they address housing issues going forward.