Sunday, April 20, 2014 1:42 AM
Published on: Thursday, December 05, 2013
By Jim Davis, Special to The Sentinel
Residents of the Greenbelt and West Lanham Hills area will soon be getting more fire fighters and ambulance staff.
On Dec. 8, Prince George ‘s County Fire Department will begin providing 24-hour staffing for the Greenbelt Volunteer Fire Department (VFD).
Prince George ‘s County Fire Department will provide Greenbelt VFD with three firefighters to staff the fire truck and two firefighters to staff the ambulance.
“We had been having problems staffing our units for about a year now’’, Christopher J. Ransom, Volunteer Assistant Fire Chief for Greenbelt VFD told the Sentinel.
“ We have about 30 active volunteer firefighters, but very few of them are qualified to drive our fire trucks” Ransom said. “It takes a lot of training and responsibility to drive a fire truck and some volunteers do not want that type of responsibility and another problem is age, most of them are not old enough to drive, “ added Ransom.
“ We do our best in getting our fire truck and ambulance out on calls, but it’s time to ask the county for help because we have to think about the residents who live in our community” Ransom said.
According to Mark Brady, spokesperson for Prince George ‘s County Fire Department , “ The membership of Greenbelt VFD had asked the county to provide them with staffing several months ago, but at that time we did not have the personnel,” said Brady.
The county had plans to provide additional staffing to the Morningside Volunteer Fire Department because of recent change in the Collective Bargaining Agreement between the county and the International Association of Firefighters Local 1619.
The new CBA creates two options — increase staffing to four career personnel around the clock or have the two firefighters removed from the 24-hour shift. Removal of firefighters from the 24-hour shift would require volunteers to staff the ambulance during nights, weekends and holidays. There are eight other stations affected by this agreement with no other adverse actions being taken at this time.
Morningside VFD declined the four-person crew around the clock, and also has informed Prince George’s County Fire Chief Marc Bashoor and that the membership of Morningside VFD has chosen to become 100 percent volunteer and the four career firefighters that are assigned to the fire station can be reassigned to another fire station in the county.
Brady told the Sentinel, “Once we were informed by Morningside VFD of their decision to become 100 percent volunteer that provided us with the personnel we needed to provide Greenbelt with career staffing, “ Brady said.
“We have welcomed the career firefighters with open arms” said Ransom. “We have been working with the county to provide additional lockers and sleeping quarters for the career personnel,” Ransom said.
“We now can ensure the residents of the area they will be getting the services they need,” Ransom told the Sentinel.