Published 10:22 am Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Phenix resident and Fire Chief Walter T. Bailey has been reappointed by former Gov. Terry McAuliffe to serve as chairman of the Virginia Fire Services Board. This second term will end June 30, 2021.
Bailey retired as Deputy Chief of Operations with the Lynchburg Fire Department. He said that four years ago after retiring in Lynchburg, one of the main reasons for his decision revolved around helping to enhance fire and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
“My name was submitted by several stakeholder groups to a position with the fire board, and that’s a governor-appointed position,” Bailey said.
He said Gov. Bob McDonnell appointed him at that time, and he was elected chairman of the fire services board in June 2014.
According to information provided by Bailey, the Virginia Fire Services Board is a policy board consisting of 15 members appointed by the governor.
“Members of the board appointed by the governor shall serve for terms of four years,” the information stated.
The board includes a representative of the insurance industry, two general public members with no connection to fire services, one member from organizations such as the Virginia Fire Chiefs Association, the Virginia State Firefighters Association, the Virginia Association of Professional Firefighters, the Virginia Fire Service Council, and more.
Bailey said the board is responsible for setting policies in the Commonwealth of Virginia and the approximately 750 departments throughout the state.
“In addition to setting standards and training guidelines, we oversee what’s called ‘ATL,’ which is aid to localities, and that’s about a $40 million pot,” Bailey said.
He said the money helps fund training in the commonwealth, and 75 percent of the money is returned to the localities to spend.
“We also set policy and guidance on how that money is spent,” Bailey said.
He said one of his favorite parts about being chair of the committee is doing studies for counties and cities across the commonwealth.
“If a county is having issues or concerns with the fire and EMS community, they will send a letter …” he said.
According to Bailey, the letter will typically come to him from the county administrator or mayor of a locality.
He said then a five-to six-person committee is usually appointed with specific knowledge surrounding the problems of the locality, and a document will ultimately will be put together and sent back to the locality making improvement recommendations.
Bailey said fire and EMS services benefit locally because he is afforded the opportunity to see a variety of practices from across the state.
“I really enjoy that aspect of it,” he said.
Bailey said he started working with fire services in Charlotte County 43 years ago.
“My foundation was started here,” he said.
Bailey said he first joined the rescue squad in the county as the first junior member in 1977 before going to work for the sheriff’s office, which created a schedule conflict and ultimately resulted in Bailey giving up rescue squad work for a while. However, he said he resumed about eight or nine years ago.
Bailey went to work in Lynchburg in 1981 and said he rose through the ranks to retire as deputy chief of operations.
“I was a chief officer there for a total of 16 years,” Bailey said.
In addition, he also currently serves as vice president of Virginia Firefighters Association, among many other accomplishments and organizations.
Bailey said one of the factors that influenced him being appointed Chair of the Virginia Fire Services Board by the Governor was his experience. He was one of few individuals who had experience in EMS, volunteer and career fire fighting.