Civil Defense/Hazmat merger irks volunteers

June 19, 1997


Staff Writer

A proposal to merge Washington County's HAZMAT team and Civil Defense into one special response unit has sparked a revolt among Civil Defense's rank-and-file volunteers.

The volunteers have been responsible for activities such as sandbagging and pumping out basements.

The combined team no longer would handle those duties, which would be left up to the local fire departments.

HAZMAT Coordinator Greg Socks presented the plan Tuesday to the Washington County Commissioners. Socks said he would be the chief of the combined operations.

Civil Defense Deputy Chief Robert Myerly told the commissioners that the only one in the 21-member group in favor of the plan was Chief Michael Royce.


A petition signed by 19 of the volunteers said the merger could cost lives and increase property damage.

"The persons who feel we are not important have never been on the receiving end when Civil Defense pulled through to help," the petition says.

The plan would remove seven vehicles from service, saving the county money, Socks said.

The combined companies would be housed in a new building.

Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said the one-man Washington County Regional Airport fire department should be part of the new special operations department, and said the airport would be the best location.

But Socks said negotiations to combine with the airport have bogged down and said putting the building that close to the county's border would inconvenience the departments' volunteers.

Public Works Director Gary Rohrer suggested using land owned by the county off Halfway Boulevard Extended near Hopewell Road.

Myerly said the rank-and-file weren't told about the negotiations until about a month ago. Socks said the talks were closed.

Civil Defense Lt. Elwood Carpenter said the problem wasn't so much with the consolidation as it was with who would lead the department. More Civil Defense members should be in leadership positions, he said.

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