Manassas fire chief to resign
The first Manassas City fire chief will resign at the end of the year.
Fire Chief Michael L. Wood's resignation comes after he spent two years leading a department in which volunteer and career fire and rescue personnel have battled over its organization and future.
Wood gave his resignation to city officials Friday, stating that much needs to be worked out between the department's volunteer and career members before it can move forward.
"The ongoing philosophical divide concerning fire and rescue services existing within the city leadership continues to undermine improvements in configuration, accountability, revenue and safety," Wood's resignation letter said. "Until this division is remedied, I fear that the combined fire and rescue system will continue to possess signification operational deficiencies and administrative inefficiencies that pose detriment to our public and first responder safety."
Wood could not be reached for comment. He hired two years ago from the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department when Manassas decided to create its first Fire and Rescue Department.
Since Wood took over, volunteer and career staff members have disagreed on the vision for and organization of the system. City officials in January passed an ordinance that said the fire and rescue system would operate under one citywide chief but that the two volunteer organizations -- the Greater Manassas Volunteer Rescue Squad and the Manassas Volunteer Fire Company -- would still have some control over policy and procedures.
Despite the intervention, the clash between the groups has continued behind the scenes. The Virginia Department of Fire Programs is now conducting an assessment of the department.
"I wasn't surprised with Chief Wood's decision," Manassas City Council member Jonathan Way said. "He had an extremely difficult challenge to blend [the departments] and he was not satisfied with the progress. It is going to continue to be a serious challenge for us."
Way said the city made the right decision two years ago to bring in a paid chief and will work to find his replacement. Way said fire and rescue service will not be impacted when Wood leaves on Dec. 31 as he was mainly in charge of administration and policy writing.
The city's fire captain, Michael Rohs, is also expected to retire at the end of the year, Way said.
Posted by: stinkyliberals | December 13, 2010 7:00 PM | Report abuse