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Source: Hollins fire and rescue volunteers to use mediator

By Chris Hurst, churst@wdbj7.com
Published On: Jan 10 2014 05:38:16 PM EST
Updated On: Jan 13 2014 07:16:28 PM EST

Fire and rescue volunteers at the Hollins Volunteer Company 5 are currently not allowed to respond to calls for service

ROANOKE CO., Va. -

Members of the Hollins Volunteer Fire and Rescue department have agreed to use a mediator to help resolve personal disputes between members that have caused a month-long suspension for everyone.

On Sunday night most of the firefighters and rescue personnel met at the station and voted for the mediator to settle lingering issues, according to a source who was there.

That source also says the fights are strictly between rescue volunteers and fire officers, and that the county has offered all members diversity training.

As we reported last week, the members are currently in a cooling-off period and are not allowed to respond to calls.

Career staff and other stations are currently handling the Hollins coverage area.

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Fire and rescue volunteers at the Hollins Volunteer Company 5 are currently not allowed to respond to calls for service during a 30 day 'cooling-off period,' according to two sources who have been briefed on the situation.

Terms of the stand-down are not being disclosed by county officials but it stems from a degradation of the relationship between volunteers within the department, sources say.

When reached for comment, Roanoke County fire department leaders referred WDBJ7 to county attorney Paul Mahoney. He declined comment, calling it a "personnel issue."

Officers for Company 5 declined to comment, but wanted to assure people living in the Hollins coverage area that calls for service will be responded to by career staff and other volunteer stations.

Several of the 12 volunteer fire chiefs were aware of issues at the Hollins station but had not been briefed by Roanoke County Fire and Rescue Chief Rick Burch.

Hollins district supervisor Al Bedrosian, after consulting with Mahoney, declined to comment.

The acceptance of a mediator leaves volunteers hopeful they will resolve their issues and be allowed again to respond to emergency calls, the source said.