Falls Church Fire Marshall, Police Chief Warn of Depleted Capabilities

Reporting to the Falls Church City Council at its work session tonight, the City’s new fire marshal, Thomas Polera, and Chief of Police Harry Reitze both cautioned that layoffs, depleted staffing of City employees and a sharp decline in citizens undergoing certification to perform important volunteer duties has left the City vulnerable in the event of a major or long-term emergency.

“The potential for our resources to be overwhelmed is great,” Reitze said. “It’s a very serious problem.” But, he added, it is not true only of Falls Church, but in jurisdictions everywhere that have sustained major personnel cuts. Polera said the decline in “certs” from 20 a year ago to seven now has been for a variety of reasons, including the transitory nature of the region and a lack of time due to a lack of staff for training. Reitze concurred. “The fire marshal is overwhelmed right now,” he said.