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Fire, EMS companies unite, publish newsletter

February 08, 2006|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - In an effort to inform the people they both serve, members of the Smithsburg Volunteer Community Fire Co. and Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services are working together to publish and distribute a joint newsletter.

"On Jan. 14, we had between 14 and 15 people out delivering the newsletters," said Phil Rohrer, president of the fire company. "It was great. Some people were surprised to see us walking around together."

Both Rohrer and EMS Capt. James Ulrich hope the bi-monthly newsletter - which began with the January edition - will help the two companies continue on a path of cooperation they say will benefit everyone in the community.

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"Our people explained to residents what we do and where we go," Ulrich said. In many instances, Smithsburg EMS personnel respond to areas where there are fire departments but no ambulances.

The cover of the January edition features an introduction that stresses that the two departments have "teamed up" in this endeavor. Then there is an overview of both departments including some history, number of calls and personnel.

Inside, each company's chief and president gives a report. Safety reminders, a smattering of pictures and a list of upcoming events and fundraisers fill the third page. On the back cover are lists of each company's personnel, along with information on how to submit questions, comments and suggestions.

"The community has grown so much and a lot of people don't know what we do and who we are," Rohrer said.

Many new Smithsburg residents have relocated from communities where they paid a fire tax or fee for the services that Smithsburg volunteers now provide to them, Rohrer said. Often when members are engaged in fundraising activities for the companies, people will wonder why the volunteers do that because they mistakenly believe there is a also fire tax in Washington County.

"We have census information that say many residents are from the city and think they are paying a fire tax," Ulrich said. "Fundraisers are vital. They are the primary source of income for us."

In addition to the newsletter, members of both companies are working together in other areas too. "We've worked well on joint fundraisers, too," Ulrich said.

Rohrer and Ulrich said their companies are concerned with attracting new and young volunteers.

"The number of our calls is really on the rise," Ulrich said.

The newsletter can be viewed on the Smithsburg Volunteer Fire Co. Web site, smithsburgvfc.org.

For more information on the fire company at 22 N. Main St., call 301-824-2889. For more information on the rescue company at 8 Maple Ave., call 301-824-3314.

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