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NEWS | June 18, 2024

Fort Barfoot firefighters receive benefits boost

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Members of Fort Barfoot Fire and Emergency Services are now eligible for a new retirement benefit after the department was added to the Virginia Law Officers’ Retirement System, or VaLORS. 

Under a bill passed by the Virginia General Assembly earlier in 2024, the department’s employees will be eligible for VaLORS, which will mean increased retirement benefits for eligible workers when compared to their current retirement plans. 

The change, which takes effect July 1, 2025, is a big deal for the department as it puts it on par with bigger departments across the state, according to Chief Danny Clary, chief of Fort Barfoot Fire and Emergency Services. 

“This is a huge win for the firefighters at Fort Barfoot,” said Clary. “These men and women will now receive the same benefits as other firefighters across the commonwealth.”

Under the VaLORS plan, the department’s leadership says they’ll be less at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining firefighters, helping improve their efforts responding to potential emergencies across the installation’s more than 40,000 acres. 

“This put us on the same playing field with the other paid departments when it comes to benefits,” said Lt. Tom Tanner, a fire inspector with the department. “We have had many people over the years to leave and go to other agencies because of our lack of having this benefit. This will be a huge recruitment and retention tool.”

A small but busy department, Fort Barfoot Fire and Emergency Services responds to all type of emergency calls, including building fires, wildfires, medical emergencies and other types of calls, all across one of the busiest training installations on the East Coast. In addition, the department often responds to calls in other jurisdictions as an additional resource, like in 2022 when the department supported efforts to extinguish a large-scale fire involving grass and machinery at a nearby biofuels facility. 

Additionally, the department has been tested by special circumstances, such as when the installation hosted more than 10,000 Afghan evacuees as part of Operation Allies Welcome in late 2021 through early 2022. During the operation, the department saw an exponential increase in emergency calls.

Keeping a trained, flexible and dedicated staff of emergency responders isn’t easy when benefits don’t measure up to larger departments, but that is now all changing with the move to VaLORS, including the addition of a hazardous duty multiplier. 

“This will be great benefit to our current members as the multiplier for VaLORS is higher than our current plans, thereby increasing an employee’s retirement,” said Tanner. “Also, the members that are on the hybrid retirement plans will be moved to Plan 2, as the hazardous duty positions don’t offer the hybrid plan. So, these employees will be get a much better retirement.”

For Clary, any tool to help increase recruitment and retention for the department only adds to the safety of everyone who trains and works at the installation. 

“I am grateful to all who took part in making this a reality,” said Clary. The men and women of Fort Barfoot Fire and Emergency Services are dedicated to providing life safety functions and this is one way we can help to look after those who provide such a vital service.”

Read more about Fort Barfoot at


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