ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – Roanoke County Fire and Rescue welcomed 10 new members Wednesday. All of them are familiar faces.
A pinning ceremony was held to officially welcome the former Vinton firefighters.
The town and the county has had a gainsharing agreement which allowed the two to share fire services. Roanoke County used to pay Vinton for shared services. The deal was initially formed to avoid concerns over annexation.
After nearly two decades, the two reached a new deal July 1 for the career Vinton firefighters to move to the county's payroll.
The new deal is cost-neutral for taxpayers in both locations.
"It's no difference for the citizens and it's not that much difference for county fire and rescue," said Roanoke County Fire Chief Stephen Simon. "I think it's a win-win for the citizens. I think it's a win-win for the county and the town."
Fire officials said the transition will be seamless since they have all worked together closely.
"Really, the level of services or anything like that is unchanged to the town of Vinton. It's unchanged to the eastern part of Roanoke County. Everything just carries on. Those folks are now just Roanoke County employees instead of the Town of Vinton employees," said Brian Clingenpeel, the community outreach coordinator for Roanoke County Fire and Rescue.
There will still be volunteer firefighters in Vinton. The former career firefighters will still work out of the Vinton department, for now. Some may be transferred to other Roanoke County departments.
Chris Linkous, the Roanoke County fire battalion chief and the former deputy chief for Vinton Fire and EMS, said the move will be a learning curve for the firefighters but he's excited.
"It's a change but it's not so much an adjustment because we had worked so closely with Roanoke County in the past, we're doing the same thing we've always been doing," Linkous said. "For the most part, it's just changing shirts."
Simon said that new arrangement will give these firefighters more opportunities for training and advancement, plus it'll make it easier to upgrade equipment since the county is larger and has more money.