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Sharpsburg EMS, Fire merger?

December 28, 1997

Sharpsburg EMS, Fire merger?

By BRENDAN KIRBY

Staff Writer

SHARPSBURG - As the number of people expressing interest in volunteering at the Sharpsburg ambulance company has increased, enthusiasm for a possible merger of the area's fire and rescue services seems to have diminished.

While the president of the Sharpsburg Area Emergency Medical Services Inc. maintained that he remains open to any idea that would improve the company, he said he has not discussed the idea with the Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Co. and added there are no plans to do so.

Jay Grimes, president of the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, said a temporary merger - which he suggested a couple weeks ago - now appears unnecessary.

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Bill Myers, president of the ambulance company, said recent applications have made the idea less urgent, but he left the door open for future discussions.

"We will still consider any option to better the system," he said.

Ron Milburn, Sharpsburg's former mayor, recently suggested the fire and rescue companies - which are located next to each other - explore the idea of merging.

He said such a marriage would reduce duplication between the services and make better use of limited manpower.

Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeremy Gay said merging services with the ambulance company would have benefits.

"I think it would be a good idea. It makes no sense for two companies that are in the same game having to pay two light bills, two electric bills," he said.

Outside officials also have said merging might make sense.

"It's hard not to take a look at that," said Richard "Dick" Mettetal, Region II EMS administrator for the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

Washington County Commissioner Ronald L. Bowers said many companies were together 20 years ago.

"I think we need to go back to the time when fire and rescue services were together and stop the duplication of efforts of fire companies and rescue companies," he said.

Commission James R. Wade, a longtime proponent of combining services, said officials should also explore the possibility of merging fire and rescue services run by the county and Hagerstown.

If county taxpayers end up subsidizing paid personnel at fire and rescue stations - as might happen - they deserve the most bang for their buck, Wade said.

"When tax money is involved, we need to provide these services as efficiently as possible," he said.




Related story: Sharpsburg EMS follow - The future, tax?

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