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Fishack: Some fire companies should get double funding

April 22, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

HAGERSTOWN -- Fire and rescue companies that operate two stations should get double the county funding of companies with only one station, Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association President Glenn Fishack told the Washington County Commissioners Tuesday.

The county has two companies with substations, which currently get only about one and a half times the funding of the other companies, Fishack said. Those stations are the First Hose Co. of Boonsboro Inc., which has a substation in Rohrersville, and Community Rescue Service Inc., which has a substation in Maugansville.

"We've got two fuel bills, two electric bills, two of everything," said Oley Griffith, the Boonsboro company's chief. "We're maintaining two stations on one big salary."

Griffith said the company cannot keep up with the population growth in its service area without additional funding.

In addition, Fishack said the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway, Md. Inc. should get double funding because it provides ambulance service as well as fire.

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In his budget request, Fishack asked for $96,000 each for the Boonsboro, Halfway and Community Rescue Service companies, double the $48,000 allocation he requested for other county volunteer companies.

The change would cost the county an additional $81,000 in allocations for volunteer companies, according to budget documents. Reduced utility costs would offset that number somewhat, but the county still would contribute $64,560 more to the fire and rescue companies than the previous year.

Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, who recently visited each of the county's fire and rescue companies, said he understood the needs of the companies with substations, but wondered why the county didn't make the substations into their own companies.

Fishack also asked the county for $100,000 toward a new county rehab unit, a vehicle used to provide food, hydration and heat or air conditioning to firefighters, rescuers and police at the scene of emergencies. The county's current rehab unit is 15 years old, Fishack said.

The Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association would match the county's $100,000 to pay for a $200,000 rehab unit, he said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval told Fishack it was good to know the association's requests, but warned they might not be granted this year.

"It's a tight budget," Kercheval said.

The commissioners have been reviewing budget requests, but are not scheduled to vote on the budget until late May or June.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Thursday, May 14, at 7 p.m. at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater.

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