Virginia State Police Association recognizes Deerfield Valley Volunteer Fire Department


The Deerfield Valley Volunteer Fire Department was recently recognized by the Virginia State Police for its assistance following a plane crash last summer.  On August 27th an F-15 military jet crashed in the National Forest near Deerfield.  The search and recovery effort brought over thirty agencies to the small community of Deerfield, when its fire department was turned into a command center for two days.

Kevin George is a Special Agent with the Virginia State Police and he’s the Virginia State Police Association’s 3rd Division Representative.  He says the Deerfield Fire Department was invaluable.

“Chief Peters and his personnel freely and generously, without hesitation, gave their entire facility for members of the Department of State Police to use, to include food, drinks, telephone and other utilities,” says George.  “Also they did have personnel that were able to assist with the initial response due to their knowledge of the surrounding area.”

The Deerfield Fire Department received a $250 donation from the Virginia State Police Association as a thank you for its assistance.

“Well the Deerfield Fire Department, as all volunteer organizations and fire departments, are funded somewhat by the county but a large part of their money they receive is through fundraising or through donations,” says George.  “For the two days that their Deerfield Fire Department was used as the command center, the Department of State Police had over eighty members at any time in and around the facility that was being used.  And with them being a volunteer organization it goes without saying that they incurred a monetary loss.  So it was just the right thing to do, you know, to give them back something to recoup those losses and also further their needs there in the community.”

Tom Peters is the Fire Chief with Deerfield Valley Volunteer Fire and Rescue.  He’s been with the department for twenty two years and feels that this is the biggest event that the agency has ever been involved in.

“We helped them try to find it and locate it,” says Peters.  “After everybody got here I just opened the door to this building and got them what they needed, whatever they needed, in any way we could.  I flew with them in the helicopter some, because they said they could tell me landmarks and I could take them and show them where to go.  I just knew the area, so when they asked for something I could show them with them not having to guide by GPS all the time.”

“I think they were prepared, the incident command system was put in place and I think it ran smoothly,” says George.  “The Virginia State Police had over eighty personnel along with our department and that’s not counting other county, state and numerous federal agencies that were there at the command center and utilized their facility.”

“I would just like to thank everybody for donating the food and all my people for helping,” says Peters.  “I don’t know what else to say.  I mean that was a horrendous situation.   I mean everything went as well as it could, I think.”

The pilot of the plane was killed in the crash.  Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot, Jr. was a decorated combat veteran with more than seventeen years of experience flying F-15 jets.

Story By

Bonnie Ralston

Bonnie Ralston is the Assistant Station Coordinator at WVLS and a Highland County news reporter. She began volunteering at Allegheny Mountain Radio in the fall of 2005. In 2006 she became an AMR employee and worked in Bath County for eight years as the WCHG Station Coordinator and then as the news reporter there. She began working in radio while in college and has stayed connected to radio, in one way or another, for more than thirty years. She grew up in Staunton, Virginia, while spending a lot of time on her family’s farm in Deerfield, Virginia. She enjoys spending time outside, watching old TV shows and movies and tending to her chickens.

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