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Fire report recommendations

October 02, 1999

In addition to recommending Washington County institute a countywide fire tax, a report by Carroll Buracker and Associates Inc. of Harrisonburg, Va., suggests:

* Residents not be billed for fire service because the number of billable services are limited and because some residents might not call for help if they thought they would be billed.

* Substations be paid at least 50 percent of the amount the county gives primary fire stations. Boonsboro Captain Jay Brandenburg recently asked the County Commissioners to treat a substation, Company 8 of Rohrersville, as they would any other fire company and give it a share of Washington County gaming funds. The commissioners said they wanted to read the report before acting on the request.

n One ambulance be placed at each of five fire stations, including Funkstown, Leitersburg, Mount Aetna, Fairplay and Potomac Valley, thereby reducing response times while avoiding the need to build new ambulance company stations. The result would be improved ambulance service at a minimal cost, the consultant said.

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n Twelve full-time firefighters be hired at a cost of about $360,000, and a firefighter program director be hired at a salary of $55,000, including fringe benefits.

* A countywide volunteer recruitment and retention program be developed.

* Consideration be given to buying a brush unit for the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Department, the only fire company in the county protecting a rural area that does not have the unit, the report says. A brush unit costs $30,000 to 60,000, said Robert Cumberland, association administrative planner.

The consultant also tried to determine what areas of the county would need fire stations in the future. The report notes:

* A fire station might be justified in the Interstate 70/U.S. 40 area, perhaps on U.S. 40 near Huyett's Crossroads, in seven to 10 years.

* The I-70 area between Hagerstown and Clear Spring might need a fire station within 20 years.

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