Knotts Island VFD suspends fire service
By William F. West
Thursday, November 9, 2017
KNOTTS ISLAND — Firefighters from Virginia Beach and Currituck County’s emergency medical services agency are providing fire protection on Knotts Island following an abrupt decision by the community’s volunteer fire department this week to suspend fire operations.
The Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department notified Currituck that it was “immediately suspending all fire response” Wednesday evening, county spokesman Randall Edwards said in a press release Thursday afternoon.
Edwards said the Knotts Island VFD’s decision came “without advance notice” and was in response to the department not having a signed contract with the county.
Knotts Island residents won’t be left without fire protection, however.
Currituck has activated its mutual aid agreement with the city of Virginia Beach, Va., to provide fire protection in the Knotts Island area until the county can “resolve the impasse” with the Knotts Island VFD, Edwards said.
Besides getting helping from Virginia Beach, the county is assigning additional personnel to Knotts Island from Currituck Fire-Emergency Medical Services. Those employees are dual-certified as paramedics and firefighters, Edwards said.
According to Edwards, the county’s impasse with the Knotts Island VFD began this spring, when the county presented all Currituck volunteer fire departments proposed contracts for the 2017-18 fiscal year. All volunteer fire departments in the county operate under a yearly service contract.
Edwards said Knotts Island VFD officials returned their department's contract unsigned, and included several requested modifications.
The county couldn't agree to those requests, so instead offered the Knotts Island VFD an extension to its existing 2016-17 service agreement with the county. That extension was supposed to allow the Knotts Island VFD to continue offering fire protection through Oct. 31, while county and VFD officials discussed the new contract.
Edwards said the county currently doesn’t have a signed contract with the Knotts Island department. The county’s contracts with other volunteer fire departments in Currituck are in effect and those agencies are operating normally, he said.
Currituck officials plan to continue working to get a signed contract with the Knotts Island fire department.
“In the meantime, residents of Knotts Island are assured that all fire emergencies will receive an appropriate response from Virginia Beach fire personnel and Currituck County Fire-EMS,” Edwards said.
It was not immediately clear what modifications to its contract the Knotts Island VFD is seeking. County Manager Dan Scanlon couldn’t immediately be reached.
In a posting on the department’s Facebook page, Knotts Island VFD officials were vague about the cause of the impasse.
“In response to recent social media postings, there is an issue that we are working on with the county to solve as quickly as possible. Thank you,” the post states.