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Virginia County Hires New Fire and EMS Director

Botetourt County has hired a top veteran from Roanoke Fire-EMS as its new chief of fire and emergency medical services.

Jeff Beckner, who served as Roanoke's deputy chief of operations, overseeing 255 uniformed personnel, will begin his new job in Botetourt County on Sept. 16. Beckner lives in Botetourt County and brings 30 years of experience in fire and EMS services and a background in management.

Though the title chief of fire and EMS services is new, this is the second attempt by Botetourt County to hire a director to oversee emergency services that have shifted over the years from all-volunteer to a hybrid of volunteer and career staff. The first fire emergency services director came from North Carolina and was given the power to take over scenes, a provision that rankled some of the departments. He lasted just a year, resigning in May 2013.

Since then, county supervisors and administrators have worked with the volunteer chiefs to mend relations and coordinate services. The volunteers were invited to be part of the hiring team that selected Beckner. The announcement was made Tuesday morning.

Later in the day, County Administrator Kathleen Guzi told the board of supervisors that three committees formed after the Virginia Fire Services Board study are continuing to work on key components: recruitment, minimum apparatus standards and code revisions. Guzi said the goal is to address each item. The report recommended that all involved from supervisors through volunteers set aside residual complaints and start anew.

Supervisor Todd Dodson said, "It's kind of neat to see them transition from this is my little company to being part of the whole system and how to work together and train together."

Beckner will oversee a combined fire and EMS system of seven volunteer fire departments, six volunteer rescue squads and a county department of 54 full- and part-time workers.

A spokeswoman for Roanoke Fire-EMS said other staff will handle Beckner's duties until his replacement is named.

August 27, 2014



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