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Washington County Fire and Rescue Association to inspect Fairplay

Conditions being set for suspended fire department

September 17, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com

A task force studying the suspended Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co. and officials with the fire department agreed to some conditions Monday night, including that the company will be inspected by the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.

The fire and rescue association will inspect the fire department to make sure it is meeting standards in areas such as equipment.

Once the inspection is complete, there will be “no question” about the department’s capability to run calls, task force member Paul Miller said during the meeting at Rockland Woods Elementary School.

At one point, the Fairplay fire department had a plan to hire a driver to operate fire and emergency medical vehicles, fire department President Bill Pennington said.

There was an agreement during the meeting that the fire department will share that plan with the task force.

Pennington said during the meeting that he felt the task force and the fire department were “moving in the right direction” to address the department’s issues.

The Washington County Board of Commissioners voted in July to suspend Fairplay Volunteer Fire Co. indefinitely for not responding quickly enough to all of its calls.

The task force was given three months to come up with possible solutions for getting the department running again, efficiently.

The task force has been meeting regularly, and during a task force meeting last week, there were heated exchanges.

When task force member Allen James made a motion to seek information from the fire and rescue association about Fairplay, including the results of physical examinations of the department’s firefighters, Pennington said he was not going to “get down and wallow in the hole you’re in.”

James’ motion was discussed again Monday night, and Miller said after the meeting that James’ request is still progressing, although Miller said the request to get the information has not been made yet.

Task force member James Sprecher asked Fairplay Fire Chief Leonard Heller Jr. if he had information on standards by which the fire department needs to abide. Heller said he did. Sprecher said he believes it is important for the department to check its compliance with the standards before the fire and rescue association inspections start so the process will flow smoothly.

“Now is the prime time (to do it), when you know you’re not going to turn a wheel,” Sprecher said.

Regarding a paid driver for Fairplay, task force member Steve Pifer said he thinks it would be helpful to find out from other fire departments in the county how paid drivers have worked for them. That information can be used to help Fairplay, according to task force members.

The task force will meet again next Monday at Rockland Woods at 7 p.m.

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