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Halfway man sworn in as president of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association

April 15, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com
  • Jeff Thompson, right, the outgoing president of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association talks with the associations's new president, Rick Blair, left, Sunday afternoon at Funkstown fire hall.
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

FUNKSTOWN — Halfway resident Rick Blair said he enjoys the administrative side of firefighting.

It’s a good thing because on Sunday he was elected and sworn into a two-year term as president of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association.

“It’s an honor, a great honor,” Blair said Sunday afternoon after the association’s meeting at the Funkstown fire hall adjourned. Blair took over the post from Jeff Thompson, a past fire chief of the Chestertown (Md.) Fire Department on the Eastern Shore.

Blair, 56, said he became a firefighter and emergency medical technician for Clear Spring Volunteer Fire Co. in the late 1970s.

“My roots are still there,” Blair said.

Serving as a firefighter and EMT was just something he was interested in doing, Blair said. While there were other ways to help his community, Blair said he chose firefighting because of the people and because of the respect firefighters receive.

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Firefighting also is in the family.

Blair’s late father, Ray Blair Sr., and two of Blair’s uncles were firefighters for Clear Spring. Blair’s nephew, Charles Mundey, is deputy fire chief at Clear Spring and he has other family members who are firefighters, Blair said.

Several of Blair’s family members were at the swearing-in on Sunday, including his brother, Ray Jr.; his brother Wayne and Wayne’s wife Pat; his grandson, Cole Levine; and his wife, Roslyn Levine, who is an employee ofTheHerald-Mail.

Blair said he served as chief of the Clear Spring Ambulance Club in the early 1980s. He was president of the ambulance club in the early 1990s and again in the late 1990s, he said.

He has been treasurer of the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association since the early 2000s, most recently being re-elected to the post last November.

Blair also is a captain with Hagerstown’s Western Enterprise Fire Co.

As president of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, Blair said his job will be to “make sure everything runs smooth.”

He will run the association’s meetings, travel occasionally for functions and meetings, and might need to speak to state legislators about firefighting issues, though there are other association members who will do that as well, he said.

Asked what issues the association could be concerned with during his term, Blair said one possibility was that firefighters respond to many medical calls, which can be taxing on firefighters and firetrucks.

Often a firetruck accompanies an ambulance to a medical call, which means the firetruck is out of service if a fire call is issued, he said.

Other continuing issues include funding and attracting younger firefighters, Blair said.

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