Havre De Grace Firefighters Seek Respect

August 25, 1991|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff writer

Members of the Susquehanna Hose Company, Havre de Grace's volunteer fire company, went searching for a little respect at the City Councilmeeting Monday.

The company, represented by 26 of its 97 active members, complained of poor communication between city officials and volunteer firefighters.

Firefighters see that as a lack of respect.

Charles E. Packard, spokesman for Susquehanna Hose, said no specific issue divides administrators of the city and fire company.

"Individually, they all hold us in high esteem," said Packard, an assistant chief at the company. "Collectively, the body of the council just doesn't think of us at all."

Mayor Gunther Hirsch said city administrators were surprised by the concerns of the firefighters.

"The fire department is invaluable to us," Hirsch said. "If they got the perception that we don't appreciate their services, that is not so."

Representatives of the city and fire company will meet Monday to discuss the fire department's concerns, which include money, land annexation and communication.

Most important is communication between the city and fire department.

When the city was putting together its 1991-1992 budget earlier this year, the fire company planned to give a presentation to outline its need for more money, Packard said.

The council, however, decided to give the company $50,000 -- the same amount since 1989 -- without hearing the company's presentation, Packard said.

The fire company operates on a $300,000 budget, financed by the city, county, state and private donations.

The company purchased an aerial truck for $480,000 in 1990 and plans to buy a $250,000 engine in October, Packard said. In addition, it costs the company about $1,000 to provide uniforms and safety equipment for each of its members.

"We know they need more money," Hirsch said. "That, unfortunately, is something we don't have much control over. Money is not easy to get."

Meanwhile, the company's coverage area will expand if the city annexes land to serve new industrial and residential developments, such as Bay View Estates, Grace Harbor and Seneca Point, Packard said.

City administrators have not considered the effect these developments will have on the fire company when discussing the annexation issue, Packard said.

The company handles about 400 service calls a year, Packard said.

Hirsch said the city does not have specific plans to annex any land.

With concerns over money and development, members ofthe fire company decided to confront the council when the members didn't show up at the planned Aug. 5 meeting, Packard said.

Hirsch noted that the meeting conflicted with a City Council session. He added that the city manager had a family emergency and a councilman was recovering from hand surgery. They could not attend either meeting.

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