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Fairplay residents react to suspension of fire company

August 01, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • Henry
Henry

Former Fairplay volunteer firefighter Mark Kopp said Wednesday that the indefinite suspension of Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co. operations because of its trouble responding to calls was overdue, while others praised the work the company was doing.

“It’s a long time coming,” Kopp said. “If Fairplay was called, services from Sharpsburg or Funkstown were going to come anyway.”

Richard Forcino, however, said the fire company always answered his calls in a timely manner.

“Every time I’ve needed the fire company, they’ve been right here,” he said. “They got here before Sharpsburg.”

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday voted 4-1 to indefinitely suspend the fire company’s operations. A task force will be formed to come up with a plan to enable the suspension to be lifted.

Kopp, 41, who lives on Knoll Drive in Fairplay, said he joined the company in 2003 and was dismissed in 2008. He now is an assistant chief at Williamsport Co. 2 Volunteer Fire and EMS, according to the company’s website at www.wvfems.org. He said he hopes the issues at Fairplay can be worked out.

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“I would hope to think that some kind of compromise can be reached,” he said. “The fire company has a lot of potential under the right leadership.”

Forcino, 75, has a Boonsboro address on Manor Church Road, but received services from the Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co., which was less than two miles away.

“When my wife was sick, their paramedic team was always here,” he said. “They always provided a quick response.”

Tom Henry, who lives on Spielman Road, said even with the failed response rate, the company’s suspension is not good for the community.

“Anything is better than nothing,” said Henry, 52. “I know they’ve had their issues in the past, but right now, I’m fine with what Fairplay is doing. I can hear when the sirens go out, and I’ve heard when the engines go out.”

Joe Walters, 44, of Knoll Drive, said he had mixed feelings about the suspension, but added that the company’s failed response rate concerns him as well.

“At least they had a 60 or 70 percent response rate, which isn’t great, but is something,” he said. “It would be nice if they could have kept them and had some sort of mediator work things out.”

Jason Harper, 21, of Fairplay Road, said he does not think the community is losing much as a result of the suspension.

“They seem to be falling apart anyway,” he said. “I’ve seen them going down the road, and they go very slow.”

Walters said he does think the county had a valid reason to suspend the company, but added he wants something to be worked out.

“My mixed feelings are only the concern that somebody could get to the community quickly,” he said. “If something happens, how fast will Williamsport or Boonsboro get to the Fairplay area?”

Fire departments in Williamsport, Funkstown, Sharpsburg and Boonsboro are expected to pick up Fairplay’s calls as a result of the Tuesday action.

Harper said Sharpsburg seems to respond to calls in Fairplay more quickly anyway.

“They tend to be a better company,” he said. “I feel as though they’ll pick it up a little bit.”

Bobby Rohrer, 80, of Sharpsburg, expressed concern that Sharpsburg could face a problem because of the  Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department responding to Fairplay calls.

“We might not get the coverage here like we should have,” he said. “This (suspension) will put extra pressure on the other companies.”

Ella Mose, 69, of Sharpsburg, said she was worried about the extra pressure that could be put on the other companies, but said she was confident they would step up.

“If they’re already picking up the slack, I don’t see an issue,” she said. “The fire companies might need to increase their personnel, but the other towns will step up to the plate.”

Luke Turner, 24, of Sharpsburg, said he was not worried because Sharpsburg will be able to pick up the slack.

“They’ve responded to a bunch of calls before Fairplay already,” he said. “There’s just no organization at the Fairplay fire department.”

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