Was it the months of face to face meetings struggling to come up with an ordinance? Was it the round table setting in Room 241? The atmosphere at this last meeting as the Albemarle County Fire Rescue Advisory Board was tangibly new.
Tim Cersley, Advisory Board chair and Chief of Scottsville Fire, led off the meeting with a report on his meeting with Chief Eggleston about the new ordinance. Kostas Alibertis, Vice Chair and Chief of Western Rescue talked about his discussions.
Both volunteer chiefs stated that while they understood the volunteers did not seek this ordinance and would prefer to not have the ordinance, their companies were first and foremost devoted to the safety of their citizens and would certainly step up to participate in the system and make sure it operates as effectively as possible. The distinction is important and should not be forgotten. Other chiefs responded similarly around the table.
Dan Eggleston, the system chief, was more engaged than I have ever seen him, sometimes leading the conversation, sometimes listening to others. The fact that he has begun to have face to face meetings in the fire houses is an important step in leadership and must be continued. As one chief said, “We may not agree, but we must hear from him directly, especially in a contentious issue. The worst case possible is to hear from someone else or the media.” The system chief’s extensive phone calls made last week were an example of new operations and must be continued.
The next months and years will tell the tale of success in this effort. We must be “all in” to make it work. The evolution of the system will be under a microscope, and we must take great care to think first, act second, and understand the consequences for all.
The Fire and Emergency Medical Services Board, FEMS Board, meets April 27, 2011, with seamless leadership, to complete the terms of the sitting chair and vice chair. A bylaws committee has already been appointed to meet in advance of the next meeting.