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ACFR celebrates 22 new firefighters, new Pantops fire engine

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 9:26 AM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Albemarle County Fire Rescue held a celebration Wednesday, October 6, after accomplishing some major projects that have been in the works for months.

Not only did the firefighters at Pantops Station 16 get to push in a new engine, but Wednesday also marked the culmination of a 18-month initiative to get more firefighters on the job.

“From 2012, we’ve been on the road to making this a reality,” Albemarle County Supervisor Ned Gallaway said. “It’s a very critical area to have a fire engine and now have a staffed station, but this also is now going to mean that other stations around the county don’t have to be pulled and called out to come over here to serve when an emergency happens.”

“We’ve supported it from the beginning,” Albemarle County Supervisor Bea Lapisto-Kirtley said.

The firetruck cost $850,000. It sounds like a pretty penny, but to county supervisors, every cent toward safety is worth it.

There is still a need for more hands on deck when it comes to fire and rescue.

“There are three factors that are really driving our need,” ACFR Fire Chief Dan Eggleston said. “That’s our urbanization of our county, our aging population, and our strain on our volunteer service. All those components really are driving to invest more in fire and EMS.”

The 18-month staffing initiative should put ACFR in a better place to serve by taking the weight off the shoulders of volunteers and improving overall emergency response times.

“The 22 personnel that we hired were dispersed across the county to really address those gaps in service, all in effort to provide consistent and reliable service across county,” Eggleston said.

The “push-in” ceremony brought all these accomplishments together. The ritual dates back to the 1800s when fire apparatuses were pulled by horses and had to be manually pushed into the bay.

ACFR doesn’t have any horses, but still honors the tradition.

Looking ahead, ACFR is rounding up new hires for recruit school in January. Once they graduate, they will head to the fire station in North Garden.

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