Fairplay task force recommends fire company's leadership be replaced

October 15, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |

A task force studying the suspended Fairplay Fire Co. voted Monday night that the fire company’s leadership — including all administration and fire suppression officers — needs to be replaced.

Task force member Allen James talked about the leadership change and the task force agreed that the change would come through an officers’ election at the department.

Task force member Steve Pifer said it’s important that there be a “fair election” and James said it should be monitored by an outside agency.

Two Fairplay Fire Co. representatives attending the meeting at Rockland Woods Elementary School — Fire Chief Leonard Heller Jr. and fire company treasurer Dave Grabill — voted against the motion. Task force member James Sprecher also voted against the motion. Task force member Tim Ammons abstained.

The discussion about the department’s personnel continued when task force member Tim Almany said he thought a lot of Fairplay’s problems would be solved by allowing members back to the department who were dismissed.

“We know there is a list of volunteers waiting. They want to join and they want to work for their volunteer fire company,” Almany said.

Heller objected to the focus on the fire company’s membership and said he thought the task force was supposed to be coming up with a plan to help improve the department’s response rate.

Fairplay Fire Co. President Bill Pennington has accompanied Heller in past meetings as Fairplay representatives on the task force.

Pennington was not at Monday’s meeting and Grabill joined Heller.

Grabill objected to how task force members were referring to members of the department who were forced out.

Grabill said the fire department got rid of four members in 2008 and the rest that were separated from the department left on their own.

“You all keep talking about the people we threw out and it’s not true,” Grabill said.

At last week’s meeting, the task force started coming up with recommendations to help the company get back into service.

Monday night, task force members continued fine-tuning the recommendations.

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

Other parts of the recommendations discussed Monday night included that the county’s planning and zoning department will inspect the Fairplay fire station to make sure it can accommodate the department’s operations.

  Task force members agreed that they will not meet any more until they get a final report from an inspection of the fire department that was conducted by the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association’s standards committee.

  Task force chairman Paul Miller is expected to meet with the Washington County Board  of Commissioners Tuesday night in Keedysville to give them an update on the task force’s work.

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