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Computer gear slated for fire companies

August 28, 1998|By TERRY TALBERT

The Washington County Fire and Rescue Association voted Thursday to accept free computer equipment that will standardize statistical reporting by fire companies.

"The way it is now we have difficulty justifying our needs when we go to the County Commissioners for help," said association President Jay Grimes.

He said fire companies now each have their own record-keeping systems.

Grimes said the new software program, which would be taught to fire company officials during a three-day seminar, would put them on the same statistical page.

Grimes said an anonymous donor contributed a "substantial amount of money" to the association to pay for the software and for modems each fire company can use to send information to a computer at association offices when needed.

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Budgeting and accounting systems are also on the software, which will survive the year 2000, association officials said. Some existing fire company software systems are not year 2000 compatible, they said.

Grimes said association officials had met with the Washington County Commissioners to discuss the software, and the county approved the system.

"Every time we want to get information now, it takes us six months," Grimes said. "For example, if the county wanted to know how much fuel was used on calls - some of you have fuel in three different places in your system, and other items in two other places. It's hard to go in and get that information."

Association officials said a committee will be formed to establish a list of statistical information the county looks for most when considering association requests, so it can be easily found in a line-item search.

Members gave association officials the OK Thursday to set up a 16-hour class on terrorist attacks.

Grime said association officials and fire chiefs were concerned about terrorism "since Frederick - Fort Detrick - was named as maybe a target area. We need to know what to do, and who to call."

Robert Cumberland, administrative planner for the association, said it was his understanding that if there is a terrorist attack in this area, "we won't be able to take patients to D.C. They won't allow their medicines to be used, or their hospitals, by outside areas."

"We might as well prepare and educate ourselves. It's not a matter of if it will happen, but when it will happen," Cumberland said.

As far as nuclear, biological or chemical attack is concerned, he said "none of us are well versed in any of that."

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