Currituck creates new fire department to cover Knotts Island

By on December 8, 2017

Currituck County has covered operations on Knotts Island since Nov. 8.

Currituck County has a new fire department: Currituck County. Or more specifically, the county now has a Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department.

The county’s Board of Commissioners established the new department Monday in a resolution that allows the county to formally take over fire and emergency medical services coverage in Knotts Island.

In early November, members of the Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department notified the county that they would no longer provide service as the result of an ongoing contract dispute.

The lack of a local fire department would result in an insurance rate hike for home and business owners on the island, because without a rated department, they would be ineligible for a credit on their insurance.

However, with a new department providing fire and emergency medical service to Knotts Island, homeowners and businesses would again be entitled to the credit, County Manager Dan Scanlon explained.

The resolution doesn’t disclose a preference for how the county will provide fire service to Knotts Island in the future, or show that the county is leaning in a particular direction that involves paid firefighters, volunteer firefighters or a combination of the two, Scanlon said.

In addition, the measure isn’t meant to be all inclusive as local volunteer fire departments may continue to serve their communities.

“The intention is to make sure that the credit remains intact,” Scanlon said.

The county has been providing fire and emergency medical services to the Knotts Island community since a Nov. 8 notice from the volunteer fire department that it was suspending all fire response by its personnel.

Since then, county firefighters and emergency medical technicians have been assigned to Knotts Island.

A long-standing mutual aid agreement with the Virginia Beach Fire Department, which has a station eight miles away in Creeds, was also reaffirmed.

Although the North Carolina Office of the State Fire Marshal has provided some guidance to Currituck County, including the nature of the resolution, state officials have not stepped in to mediate the dispute, Scanlon said.

“They are not going to insert themselves into this conversation,” Scanlon said in response to a question by Commissioner Mike Payment regarding that office’s comments on the issue.

“They are leaving that to the discretion of the parties involved to work through whatever issues they may or may not have,” Scanlon added.

In an email to the county to that effect, the fire marshal’s office did comment that unfortunately, what is occurring in Currituck isn’t unusual, Scanlon said.

“It is getting more demanding all the time for volunteers to be in a position to freely give up their time for community service, and volunteer fire departments across the nation are struggling to recruit and retain good people that continue to volunteer in their departments,” Scanlon said.

Following Scanlon’s comments Monday, board chairman Bobby Hanig read a statement regarding the troubles between the county and Knotts Island Volunteer Fire Department.

Since the volunteer fire department bowed out, the county has staffed the Knotts Island fire department with four dual-certified paramedics and firefighters, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will continue to do so, Hanig said.

“Though taking over the Knotts Island Fire Department was not the county’s original intent, the Board of Commissioners views this situation as an opportunity to improve public safety and provide peace of mind to the residents and property owners of Knotts Island,” Hanig said.

“Everyone living or owning property in Knotts Island can be assured of a timely and appropriate response to a structure fire or other emergency,” he added.

“At this time, the county commissioners view this as an interim solution, and the Board of Commissioners will discuss long term plans and will engage the citizens of Knotts Island as we move forward.”

Knotts Island residents and business owners will have a chance to engage with the commissioners next week, when the Board of Commissioners holds a special meeting at 7 p.m. in the the cafeteria of Knotts Island Elementary School.


  • Reid

    They county should have paid employees at every station. This shouldn’t be on a needed basis but at every station. If it’s just during the day since the volunteers work and are not always home. Knotts island doesn’t have as much job opportunity as the rest of the county.

    Friday, Dec 8 @ 8:47 am
  • Shaun

    One or two paid firefighters at each station makes good organizational sense. Full time employees can keep the volunteer service moving and viable. Volunteer services of all kinds experience high and lows of service provided depending on the level of volunteerism available during years of feast or famine in the economy. It’s a fact of life.

    Tuesday, Dec 12 @ 5:55 am