Three of nine paid firefighters assigned to the Ferndale Volunteer Fire Co. will be transferred next month, but the company will not shutdown or relocate any time soon, county Fire Administrator Paul Haigley said yesterday.
That is welcome news to Ferndale's volunteer fire crew, residents and elected leaders, who have been fearing a withdrawal of all paid help that could spell doom for the 50-year-old volunteer station.
Ferndale has 55 volunteer firefighters, none of whom can work dayshifts. They depend on paid firefighters to staff the daytime hours.
"There have been terrible rampant rumors that I am going to closethe place. That's just not true," Haigley said. "There are no plans to pull out paid firefighters today, tomorrow or next week."
The county would like to steer Ferndale toward an all-volunteer operation,but that would be a gradual process that could take years, Haigley said.
Likewise, a proposal that Ferndale be merged with the Brooklyn Park company and moved to Route 2 and Hammonds Lane is a long way from realization.
"It's probably not going to happen in the next six years," Haigley said of the plan, outlined in a new fire station location study.
Unlike many of the county's 30 fire stations, where friction exists between paid and volunteer firefighters, the two factions get along well in Ferndale, said Jim Adams, president of the Ferndale company. In fact, serious concerns exist about whether the company could recruit enough volunteers to man the day shift if Ferndale lost its paid help.
"We want the paid people there," Adams said.
"If they were to leave, we'd be in dire straits during the day until we got enough people trained," said Ed Wilson, secretary of the company's board of directors. It takes about 1 1/2 years to train a firefighter, he said.
Ferndale now gets round-the-clock help from the nine paid firefighters, who work three on a shift every day. That will be reduced to two on a shift, probably next month, when three paid firefighters are reassigned to work on a hook-and-ladder truck at another company, Haigley said.