Citing recent civilian help in fighting fires, AACoFD Union calls for more staffing

| August 13, 2017

Photo: Anne Arundel First Alert

On Thursday, August 10th, the Anne Arundel County Fire Department (AACOFD) received a call for a dwelling fire in Shady Side.  The first unit on the scene, staffed with 2 Professional Fire Fighters, arrived to see the dwelling completely engulfed in flames. A Good Samaritan, on the scene in his capacity as a Sanitation Worker (see article posted on August 12 for video), was able and willing to lend a hand.

On Saturday, August 12, AACOFD was dispatched for a shed fire next to a house in Deale.  The fire engine crew of 2 found a large amount of fire coming from a shed several feet from a house. As the Lieutenant was accounting for the safety of the homeowner, a neighbor and off duty firefighter from Washington, DC identified himself, offered assistance and began putting water on the fire until he was relieved by AACOFD personnel as they arrived. The homeowner credits the swift action of his neighbor’s assistance and the professionalism of the 2-person fire crew for saving his house.

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) states that 4 professional staff should be on the first due engine or truck on an emergency call.  Out of 31 stations, only four Anne Arundel County stations meet this minimum requirement and about half the stations respond with three.  Nine stations go out with two professional staff, or half of the national standard.  Two stations in the County respond with only one professional after 5pm Monday through Thursday, and all-day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  One station, Ferndale, has no professional staff for their equipment.

“This is a danger and a concern our membership sadly deals with every day,” said IAFF Local 1563 President Joe Addivinola.  “Budget cuts may look good on paper, until you’re reading obituaries of County Citizens.  It is disgraceful that our County is now forced to rely upon Good Samaritans to be able to provide basic public safety to the community.”

Acknowledging inadequate staffing levels, the federal government awarded the County with a SAFER grant last year, adding 52 full time Fire Fighters to ensure adequate around-the-clock staffing.  County Executive Schuh cancelled the federal SAFER Grant after an independent arbitrator ruled in favor of the County’s Professional Fire Fighters during contract negotiations, saying the County could not afford the expense.  Had the SAFER grant not been turned down, the responding unit in the Shady Side incident and many other incidents in the County would have gone out with 3 staff.

“These are tragedies on so many levels,” said County Councilman Jerry Walker who represents Shady Side and Deale.  “It’s always sad to lose a citizen, but knowing we could have potentially saved a citizen’s life and property with the SAFER grant money?  That’s just a hard pill to swallow.”

Source :

IAFF Local 1563

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