Advocate editorial board opinion: Vance Riley modernized Victoria Fire Department
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The Victoria Fire Department's Vance Riley accomplished a lot during his tenure as fire chief.
We congratulate Riley, who is 49, upon his announcement of retirement, which will be official at the end of January.
Riley was hired in March 1995 and had acted as a consultant to the city and retiring fire chief Henry Juenke at the time. The consulting was for a plan to consolidate emergency medical services and firefighting services; in other words, personnel would be cross trained to do both jobs.
The cross training, in essence, converted the antiquated Victoria Fire Department to a modern organization. An additional benefit was stopping the increasing debt of the ambulance service; merging EMS and firefighting services shored up that loss.
Commenting about the merger, Riley told a reporter, "I would say I'm proud of the way members of the department have consolidated the fire and EMS departments. It dynamically changed the way we deliver emergency services in the county."
Riley didn't stop there. His goal was to shorten the response time to fires to less than six minutes, which would mean placing fire stations strategically through Victoria. The placement of fire stations through the city would save residents a lot of money in insurance costs - the nearer the fire station, the cheaper the homeowner insurance would be. Of course, the investment in building fire stations was expensive, but quality emergency services are the end result. That means a safer community, quick emergency response time and professionally trained EMS/firefighters at emergency events.
Riley also was instrumental in upgrading the department's equipment, creating a hazmat team while improving employee safety.
Yes, mistakes have been made during Riley's tenure, but that is not the reason he is retiring. He says it's time for him to retire and possibly move into the private sector.
On a larger scale, Riley has served on the governor's Emergency Medical Services and Trauma Advisory Council as a member and chairman. The special council plans statewide strategies to address the needs and management of emergency services.
We praise Riley for his work with our fire department. We can be proud of the team he built and state-of-the-art fire department we have in our community. And we wish him well in his future endeavors.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.