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Officials want mutual aid for food wagon

September 19, 1997

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - The Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association voted Thursday to seek agreements from surrounding counties over use of the county's food wagon.

The Washington County Rehab unit provides food and beverages to firefighters and rescue workers during emergencies that last several hours.

Since other nearby counties do not have a similar operation, the Washington County food wagon often answers calls in other jurisdictions when other county units also have been called.

But the yearly budget is only $4,000, according to association president Jay Grimes. The unit routinely exceeds the budget and officials must shift funds from other accounts, he said.

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"I don't think we can justify running the Rehab unit outside the county," he said. "I don't think it's fair to this county that we do that."

A massive oil spill in Frederick County, Md., on Tuesday, for instance, cost the unit $300, Grimes said.

Since mutual aid agreements with Frederick and other counties do not cover the food wagon, Grimes said Washington County must pay the entire cost.

But getting an agreement might not be an easy task. Several members of the association asked whether other jurisdictions would be willing to help pay if other Washington County fire companies call for the wagon.

If they balk, would the Rehab unit refuse to leave the county even if Washington County firefighters are working?

Grimes said the association would have to decide if efforts to negotiate agreements fail.

"The first thing is to try to settle it," he said.

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