Fireworks erupt at fire and rescue group meeting

March 21, 1997


Staff Writer

HANCOCK - The Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association Thursday voted to reprimand three fire companies during a meeting at which the group's treasurer resigned.

In a 13-8 vote, members of the organization voted to send letters of reprimand to volunteer companies in Boonsboro, Maugansville and Longmeadow for comments their chiefs made in a Herald-Mail article on Sunday. In the article, they questioned whether a new training center should be the association's No. 1 priority.

Also Thursday, Charles Shindle resigned as treasurer, citing the divisiveness in the group.

"There is no unity. It does not exist," he wrote in a letter that was read to the association. "I hate to write this letter." Shindle declined to elaborate on his letter.


Organization president Jay Grimes also expressed frustration with internal divisions. He said other officers may follow Shindle's lead if fire and rescue companies do not begin acting in unison.

"We've either got to be team players or we're going to do this for the next 20 years like we have the last 20 years," he said. "We keep cutting our throat every time we turn around."

Those divisions were on display Thursday night. A majority of the organization's members voted to reprimand the three companies because members were angry that they took their concerns to the newspaper without discussing them with the association.

Grimes said the letter warns of "harsher action in the future." He said the specific sanctions would be determined by association members.

In the newspaper article, Longmeadow Chief Richard Roche and Maugansville Chief Phil Ridenour said money earmarked for a new training facility might be better spent boosting manpower during daytime hours.

Oley Griffith, chief of the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro, said he supported the training center but would also like to see more money to support fire services.

But the delegate who sponsored the resolution said chiefs should discuss such views with association members first.

"I think that some reprimand is needed to go to the chief of (Company) 27 and his company for this fiasco," he said. "This is not to be tolerated within our association."

Ridenour, in his defense, noted that he did not oppose the fire training center but said there are other priorities.

The association voted once again to endorse the fire center, which the group's leaders said is necessary to provide adequate classroom space. If fire and rescue personnel provide a unified block, they could form a potent political force, Grimes said.

"This is probably the most opportune time we've ever seen," he said. "We are standing in the right place at the right time and we're disagreeing, we're arguing."

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