Since then, Lausch has provided training records for his “line officers,” which include the chief and assistant chief, but not the records for the other nearly 80 members. He said that whether he releases those records depends on the policies and procedures of a proposed new uniformed ranking system — something used in Prince William to more closely align the training standards of career and volunteer members.
Lausch said that he also wants to sit down with Bowman and work through reservations he might have. Lausch said that he had tried to reach out to him, but Bowman has not been available. The two were together at a fire and rescue meeting Wednesday, but Lausch said he did not have a chance to talk to him there.
“It’s important for that position to be filled,” Lausch said. “We believe the system created is the right one to move forward with . . . and I just want to do what’s right and makes sense so we can provide the best service we can.”
Despite the bickering at the administrative level, both city and fire officials said residents’ safety has not been compromised. Officials are, however, concerned about getting a chief who will stay with the department.
“We have organizational issues we are trying to work through,” Manassas council member Mark Wolfe (R) said. “But what we are going through, other communities have already gone through. . . . In an urban setting, you can’t have a predominantly volunteer fire and rescue system anymore.”
The county recently redesigned the structure of its Fire and Rescue Department, which consists of career and volunteer members. Prince William Fire Chief Kevin McGee said they worked together for several months to come up with a plan everyone supported. That, he said, contributed to a smooth implementation of the new structure.
Council members said they will wait and see what Bowman decides before intervening. Some said they support the system the way it is, while others think it needs to be readdressed. Way said that he wants to consider the Virginia Department of Fire Programs recent study, which concluded that Manassas should give more authority to the paid chief.
“The organization now was done as a compromise and wasn’t one anyone wanted,” Way said. “In my opinion, the organizational flaws should be fixed before we hunt for another chief.”