Fairplay Fire Co. recommendations heard

December 16, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- During a meeting Tuesday of the Washington County Commissioners, the county's director of the Division of Fire and Emergency Services made several recommendations in response to concerns involving the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co.

At least four Fairplay volunteer firefighters were informed Nov. 11 by the company's president that their memberships were not being renewed, the affected firefighters have told The Herald-Mail.

At least 12 of the company's members either resigned or were told that their memberships had not been renewed, according to Kevin Lewis, the director of the Division of Fire and Emergency Services.

County Commissioner Kristin Aleshire said Tuesday the situation resulted in a "large response" from the community. Aleshire said he received 50 to 100 e-mails about the situation.


County Administrator Greg Murray gave a brief report to the commissioners, reporting a "positive" meeting between himself, Lewis, Washington County Fire and Rescue Association President Glenn Fishack and Fairplay company president Bill Pennington. An average of 3.1 people run on Fairplay's calls, Murray said.

Companies in the areas surrounding Fairplay have provided, and continue to provide, dual coverage of the area, fire officials have said.

Lewis recommended that the dual dispatch continue. He also recommended dispatching surrounding fire companies for all emergency medical calls requiring a first responder and dispatching the county's resources for fire dispatches above a certain level.

Lewis also requested several documents, including the names of all active members, all of which he expected to receive, he told the commissioners.

He also asked that Fairplay officials hold an open public forum to hear from citizens.

In addition to the recommendations he made Tuesday, Lewis also provided the commissioners with the verified number of active firefighting personnel at the company, a number which he had not received as of the commission meeting last week.

State law requires fire companies to have at least 20 members, at least 10 of whom are active members, Lewis has said. The Fire and Rescue Association has verified that Fairplay has 13 active firefighters, Lewis said in a written memorandum to the commissioners.

The active firefighters were certified by the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute and by the Executive Board of the Maryland State Firemen's Association, Fishack said Tuesday. Three of the 13 are officers, he said.

According to county standards, a minimum of four people -- including two with Firefighter I designations given to those who have completed an accredited Firefighter I and Hazardous Materials Operations training program -- are required to operate an engine.

All of Fairplay's active firefighters are designated at least Firefighter I, Fishack said.

Pennington and his attorney, Edward L. Kuczynski, as well as several members of the fire company, attended Tuesday's meeting. Pennington said he expects even more active members as people complete more training and transfer from other companies.

Pennington said his company had been answering 87 percent of all calls -- the third-most calls in the county.

"We thought we were going a good job" he said.

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