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Fire substation left out of funding

September 26, 1999

SubstationBy KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer

photo: KEVIN G. GILBERT / staff photographer




ROHRERSVILLE - Company 8 of Rohrersville has its own building, fire engine and equipment, and it responds to as many calls as other fire companies in Washington County, according to Boonsboro firefighters who run the substation.

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Boonsboro volunteers are asking that Rohrersville be treated like any other fire company and receive its share of Washington County gaming funds, said Boonsboro Captain Jay Brandenburg.

"The First Hose Co. has been forced to operate two complete stations with the same resources as one," he said.

Since the substation opened in September 1998 six miles south of Boonsboro on the east side of Md. 67, Boonsboro has seen no increase in its $40,000 county government allotment, he said.

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Brandenburg said the company has asked the county for additional funds but hasn't received any.

State Del. Chris Shank, R-Washington, also petitioned the commissioners for money for the substation in August.

The county commissioners received a report last week from consulting firm Carroll Buracker & Associates of Harrisonburg, Va., analyzing the fire and rescue needs of Washington County.

Commissioners Bertrand L. Iseminger, Greg I. Snook, William J. Wivell and John L. Schnebly said they are waiting for recommendations from an advisory committee which will review the 400-page report before deciding if the substation will receive funds.

A previous report from the company was received in 1998 but was found to contain errors and a second one was commissioned.

In the original report, "the study indicated a need for a station along Md. 67 near Townsend Road," Brandenburg said.

Iseminger said he supports the Rohrersville substation. "They perform a valuable service to the southern part of the county."

Boonsboro must submit a request with a specific amount and provide financial records showing the need for the money, he said.

Wivell said he has visited the substation and applauds the volunteers' efforts.

"I'm impressed with what they've done with little resources," he said.

He said commissioners might be able to find a way to fund the substation to some degree.

With the approval of the county commissioners, Boonsboro established the substation using its annual allotment of tip jar revenue and fund-raising money.

Using 7 acres of donated land, Boonsboro built a $515,000 three-bay fire hall and supplied manpower, equipment and a fire engine.

Since then, firefighters have responded to 150 emergency calls in that area, said Brandenburg.

Brandenburg said the substation was needed to improve fire service for southern Washington County and for insurance savings for homeowners and businesses.

The new substation cuts response time by almost four minutes, Brandenburg said. It takes volunteers from Boonsboro's fire hall about 10.8 minutes to respond to the Rohrersville area.

The company quickly responded to a house explosion on Kaetzel Road and a house fire on Hog Maw Road in the spring because of the new substation, he said.

Brandenburg said the fire company feels let down by Washington County.

"The county government has failed to support their efforts financially. The company has incurred a large debt through the building construction and still needs additional protective clothing and equipment," Brandenburg said in a letter to the editor to The Herald-Mail.

A 15-year mortgage with annual payments of $20,000, along with the purchase of a new ladder truck, tanker and other expenses has Boonsboro struggling to make ends meet, Brandenburg said.

"A small investment by the local government would certainly help save lives and improve the quality of life for all of southern Washington County," he said in the letter.

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