Knotts Island fire chief calls out Currituck County officials
KNOTTS ISLAND, N.C. (WVEC) -- Residents of Knotts Island in Currituck County, N.C. will still receive fire service in an emergency, just not from their local fire department.
On Thursday, the Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department (KIVFD) was suspended because it does not have a signed contract with the county.
All volunteer fire departments in Currituck operate under a yearly service contract. In the spring, Currituck County presented a contract to KIVFD, but officials sent the contract back, unsigned, with modifications.
In the contract, it shows the Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department requesting 17 changes.
The county could not agree to the requested modifications for the 2017-18 contract, and instead offered an extension to the 2016-17 agreement. Fire services were extended through Oct. 31, 2017 while the new contract was being discussed.
KIVFD Chief, Derek Morgan said he has not heard from Currituck County about any negotiations. "Nobody ever came to talk nobody had meetings and the county has failed to do so," said Morgan.
He said, part of his requested changes in the contract include having the county give them the contract 90 days before it's over. Morgan said "I generally don't receive these contracts until a week to two weeks prior to having to be signed."
At this time the contract remains unsigned. However, Morgan said they're not the only station in the county to not sign a contract. He adds, station 4 and 5 have not signed their contracts and got a one year extension.
Morgan said, "We are being singled out in simple terms." He said all three stations have asked for similar changes to the contracts.
"It was pretty much making our department have to do every little thing through the county," said Morgan. He said, "I understand we need checks and balances but at the same time we need to be entrusted to operate."
Due to the unsigned contract, Currituck County Fire and EMS has four employees out at the Knotts Island station. They will also continue to use the services of Virginia Beach Fire Department.
Lieutenant Richard Lane is an operational supervisor at the Moyock Fire Department for Currituck County. He said Currituck County Fire and EMS is stretching resources out more now.
"Yeah it's not easy, I don't know how else to answer that," said Richard.
Knotts Island has about 71 people for each square mile. So, Currituck County Fire and EMS is doubling its staff at Knotts Island to 4 people.
"It's challenging. As a supervisor our supervisors come from the middle of the county and we attempt to head over there, but it's a good 45 minute ride from the center of the county to Knotts Island," said Richard.
Currituck County will continue its attempt to resolve the impasse with KIVFD. There will be a meeting on Monday at the Historic Court House, in the Town of Currituck. We should know the time later on Monday. They are expected to discuss a longer term plan for Knotts Island.
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.
13News Now was contacted by the Chief of the Knotts Volunteer Fire Department, Derek Morgan. He told us that the fire department was never contacted to negotiate the contract.
Chief Morgan provided us with a copy of the contract with the proposed changes requested by the fire department.