Friday, December 06, 2013 1:57 AM
Photo by Jim Davis. Lack of drivers may result in fire trucks from Marlboro Volunteer Fire Department not responding to emergency calls in Upper Malboro.
Published on: Tuesday, July 02, 2013
By Jim Davis
Eight Prince George’s County career firefighters were removed from an Upper Marlboro fire station on Sunday.
This is the second time in the past three months that Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department has shuffled its career firefighters from one station to another.
The eight Marlboro Volunteer Fire Department firefighters were reassigned to fire stations throughout the county. Bowie and Forestville are among fire stations to receive additional staff.
These firefighters work a 24-hour shift followed by 72 hours off. Two firefighters are on each shift.
“It’s difficult for us early in the morning and in the afternoon to get out,” said Timmy Clark, volunteer fire chief of Marlboro VFD. “The eight firefighters were our drivers.”
Marlboro VFD is now staffed by four career firefighters who work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday — leaving volunteer firefighters to fill in as fire truck and ambulance drivers.
“I cannot understand why we are losing out shift workers with the two court houses and the County Administration Building only a few blocks from our station,” Clark said. “You think they want to make sure our fire trucks will get out.”
Although Marlboro VFD has 35 active volunteers, not all volunteers have the training required to drive the fire engine and ladder truck. Also, some volunteer firefighters work day jobs until 5 p.m., Clark said.
Staff will increase at Forestville Fire/EMS Station 823, on Old Marlboro Pike, and at Bowie Fire/EMS Station 843 in Pointer Ridge, where nighttime staff will increase from two to five career firefighters. Two career members will staff the ambulance and three will staff the fire truck, PGFD spokesman Mark Brady said.
These two stations received more staff because of the amount of incidents these stations responded to while understaffed among other factors, Brady said.
This is the third phase of a plan to increase career staff at certain stations. The plan increases staff levels from two to five firefighters and adds medic units to specific stations.
Silver Hill, District Heights, Chapel Oaks and several other fire stations received additional firefighting staff and EMS units in July 2012.
Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department reassigned 20 career firefighters, who work 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, from Seat Pleasant, Branchville, West Lanham Hills and Boulevard Heights volunteer fire departments to other stations. This move left volunteers to staff their stations 24/7.
By removing firefighters from those stations, PGFD increased career staff from two to five firefighters to several other fire stations. The shuffle also provided full-time staffing at Capital Heights Volunteer Fire Department, which did not have career firefighters for the past several years.
More fire stations may lose nighttime and weekend career staff during another staffing shuffle in the next six months, officials said.
The Fire Department also plans to add 30 more career firefighters in October.