Some interesting developments in the news about plans to change the structure and authority of volunteer fire commissions in both Prince George's County and Montgomery County.
In PG, County Executive Rushern Baker, in hopes that a compromise can be worked out, pulled back emergency legislation yesterday that would radically change the Prince George's County Fire Commission. The original plan would have Baker appoint commission members who live in the county and add career firefighter and civilian members to the panel. Currently, the all-volunteer commission is elected by the volunteer departments. The latest version keeps those changes but the commission would maintain control of its budget.
“The fire chief has advised the county executive that due to the tremendous efforts of our volunteers … they should be given an additional opportunity to come to a consensus on this reorganization, ” Brad Frome, Baker’s deputy chief of staff, told the council Tuesday.
A new executive order that maintains the residency requirement and changes to the appointment process but does not revoke the commission's authority over the $12 million in budget funds, was to be introduced Tuesday afternoon, Frome said. That order would not go into effect until March 1, which the administration feels is ample time to reach a compromise and alter the legislation as needed.
“I agree with the sentiment of trying to provide some level of conformity and some level of direct manning and control and having the chief far more supported than he is today,” said Leggett, who did not attend the public hearing. “There’s still a question that this bill might be able to do that.”
Leggett said he has heard of alternatives but declined to say what they are. Both Bowers and Marcine D. Goodloe, president of the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire-Rescue Association, say they remain firm on their stances. Bowers: chuck the veto entirely. Goodloe: keep it as it stands.