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State Firemen's Association commends Ernst's efforts

July 02, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

With 18 years of fire service under his belt, Maryland Deputy State Fire Marshal Ed Ernst knows all too well he can be called anytime or anywhere.

Even in Florida.

"Once I was at the Epcot Center in Florida with my family when I got a call on my phone about a fire in Washington County," Ernst said.

Though dedicated to his calling, Ernst said he let others respond to that call.

"I do try to be as accessible as I can," he said.

Ernst, who serves Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties, was recognized for his outstanding work in that region during the Maryland State Firemen's Association convention in Ocean City in June.

During 2008, Ernst conducted 68 initial fire investigations. Of the 34 that were criminal in nature, he closed 19 with arrests -- nearly double the state average.

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He also performed 93 fire safety inspections and handled most violations in Washington County.

He was the lead investigator in several major incidents, including the blaze at author Nora Roberts' bed and breakfast in downtown Boonsboro.

A fire prevention training video he helped create is part of Washington County's annual in-service requirements for teachers.

Ernst also spoke to civic groups and taught classes at Children's Village of Washington County during the year.

"I started in the fire service in 1991 when I became a volunteer with the Volunteer Fire Co. of Halfway," Ernst said. "I went to the fire hall, hung out with the members and I liked it."

Ernst started as a probationary firefighter under Chief Jeff Ringer and was named rookie of the year, then firefighter of the year in his second year.

"My third year, I was promoted to lieutenant. Now, I'm deputy chief ... still under Chief Ringer," Ernst said.

Ernst estimates he responded to 200 to 300 calls for the Halfway company in 2008.

As if he didn't have enough to fill his time, Ernst has applied for a bomb squad designation.

"I'm always training for other things," Ernst said.

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