Consulting firm hired to serve as interim Fire, EMS director

By: Contributed Report | Twitter: @PGJournal
Posted: June 4, 2020 | 12:30 p.m.

PRINCE GEORGE – As Prince George County prepares to search for a new fire and EMS director following the departure of former head Brad Owens, county leaders tapped a Chesterfield-based consulting firm to serve in the position during the interim.

During their May 12 meeting, supervisors unanimously approved entering into a contract with Mauger and Associates that will see the organization act as the county’s interim fire and EMS director while the county pursues a full-time replacement. 

The agreement with Mauger and Associates relieved Donald Hunter, part-time deputy emergency management coordinator and county supervisor, of the role. He served as fire and EMS director on a temporary basis for several days after Owen’s departure from Prince George. 

A check of Virginia State Corporation Commission records shows the company is based out of Chester with Paul Mauger listed as its registered agent. The company’s website, according to several listings, directs users to the Virginia Association of Hazardous Materials Response Specialists website where Mauger is listed as treasurer. 

“The Virginia Association of Hazardous Materials Response Specialists is the coordinated voice for hazardous materials response team members throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” the About section of their Facebook page detailed. “Association members exchange information on a state-wide basis, interface with national organizations, and develop a common inventory list of resources and promote resource sharing in the Commonwealth.”

Through their consulting services agreement, Mauger and Associates will be “bound to fulfill the requirements of the County’s adopted job description and policies and carry out duties and responsibilities as outlined by the Code of Virginia.”

Based on the fire and EMS director listing on the county’s employment opportunities website, the company will be directly involved in the “planning, organizing and directing the operation of the Fire and EMS employees and Department Volunteers within the coordinated emergency response system.” With that, Mauger and Associates will help plan and organize the county’s fire, EMS, and other emergency service delivery efforts while also managing “emergency planning for all man-made and natural disasters and [coordinating] disaster and hazardous materials responses.”

County Administrator Percy Ashcraft or, in his absence, human resources director Corrie Hunt will serve as the county’s representative regarding work done through the agreement. 

Following the board’s approval, Mauger and Associates began serving as interim director on May 14 and will continue to do so through July 14. After that, the county will evaluate if their services are still needed. 

That contract’s length is in line with estimates provided by County Attorney Daniel Whitten in early May when asked about the timetable to find a suitable full-time replacement to Owens.

“Hopefully in the next 60 days, we will have someone in place,” he detailed in a May 8 interview. “It would be great if we had someone in the next 30 days but it really depends on the person we find, where they are working, and how much notice they have to give but, I would say in the next 30 to 60 days.”

Regarding compensation, Mauger and Associates will be paid “$110 per hour; working an average of 24-32 hours per week,” with an estimated cost between $10,560 to $14,080 over a thirty-day period based on the agreement’s language. The company will not receive benefits or compensation for travel and they are expected to be “available after hours to respond to calls and emergencies by phone or other electronic means.”

With COVID-19 still being a significant public health emergency in Prince George alongside the day-to-day call load of the county, the timing of Owens departure and the start of a search for his replacement brought concern for some. When asked in May, County Attorney Whitten, speaking on behalf of the county and board of supervisors said citizens will not see any impacts on service delivery during the ongoing time of transition. 

“We have people in place who can handle the response and know what tools to use so I don’t think there should be any concerns.” he said. “All of the operations are still in place and the same employees are in their current roles. There haven’t been any changes in the organizational structure so there shouldn’t be any changes in responses and we will still be able to protect the county and its citizens.”

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