September 24, 2018 – via email

Chair Randall,

The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department (AVFRD) continues to proudly serve our community both day and night by providing emergency services, public education and opportunities for our citizens to serve one another.  However, as you have pointed out to volunteer leadership in the past, we do not do a very good job of advocating for ourselves.  As a result, the value of volunteer departments within Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue is not always understood by the public, LCCFR leadership or the Board.
AVFRD is committed to improving our ongoing communication with County leaders, providing you with information about both our successes and needs as we serve our community.  As such, I’d like to take a moment to share the attached letter regarding our efforts around diversity and inclusion within our organization and how it impacts our community.
We look forward to continued communication between our Department and County Leadership.  Please let me know If there are any specific topics that you would like us to discuss to help you and the Board further understand the many benefits a strong volunteer fire and rescue system offers to our community.
Regards,
Josh Townsend
Vice President
Firefighter / EMT – Sunday Crew
Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department

September 24, 2018 – Attachment to email

Chair Randall,

The Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department (AVFRD) believes that when neighbors help neighbors, our community becomes stronger and safer. Knowing that folks just like you – in your own neighborhood – are willing to sacrifice their time, energy and even their lives to help in times of need brings Loudoun County residents a sense of belonging and helps to fight feelings of isolation across our diverse community. Our department has continued to evolve from one formed by community members in the wake of a tragic loss of three children in a tenement house fire in 1944 to a significant contributor in our modernized Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue System. Indeed, our community has seen many changes in our economy, population and diversity in the 74 years since our founding and we are proud to say that the Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department has and continues to evolve with the community we serve.

AVFRD is proud to recognize the growing diversity of our members. When questioned in the past about our ratio of male to female firefighters, my answer was often ‘too much to not enough’. I am proud to report that that is changing. In our previous recruit class, we had an equal number of females and males, more female firefighter applicants than male, and more ethnic minorities than white recruits. Our current class (our largest ever at 20 operational members and 1 administrative member) includes an amazing mix of individuals who represent a cross section of our community’s population. Our membership includes speakers of at least 18 different languages, with 6 languages spoken by two or more volunteers in our company. In moments of crisis, our members can and have offered comfort to our neighbors in their native language.

Indeed, our membership now includes a host of ethnic minorities, an increasingly balanced ratio of genders, a cross-section of ages, educational levels and populations that are often underrepresented in the fire/rescue community (for example, LGBTQ+). As a volunteer force that draws its membership directly from the community we serve, AVFRD, along with our fellow volunteer organizations in the county, reflect the diversity of our community in ways that may be difficult to obtain in a hired workforce. And we do this while maintaining the same levels of training and professionalism as our career peers in the Loudoun County Combined Fire and Rescue Department.

Thank you for your continued support of the volunteer companies that make up our combination system. We welcome your feedback on ways that we continue to improve our diversity and inclusion practices. Our volunteers are committed to continuing our work with you and the rest of the Board of Supervisors to maintain the strength and benefits to our community that the volunteer fire and rescue companies bring to Loudoun County.

Regards,
Joshua Townsend
Vice President
Firefighter / EMT – Sunday Crew
Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department

Ashburn Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department Patch