Firemen's Association rejects bid to unify groups

Companies vote 7-7 at annual convention

May 16, 1999|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

The Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association once again rejected a proposal to consolidate its three member groups -- Fire Chiefs, Ambulance and Fire Police associations -- at its 76th annual convention yesterday.

The consolidation of the groups into one was a main topic of discussion at the association's business meeting, held at the Reese and Community Volunteer Fire Company.

This year's effort brought the issue closer to passage than had previous attempts. The vote was split -- seven companies for and seven against. A two-thirds majority is required for passage.

The Fire Chiefs Association, Ambulance Association and Fire Police are members of the Firemen's Association, but maintain autonomy. Each holds monthly meetings where votes on issues are taken, and the decisions are offered to the Firemen's Association for consideration.

The association is an umbrella organization for the 14 fire companies and three other groups. The association oversees an annual budget that helps pay for fire and emergency operations, along with paying for a training center, health screenings and other programs for volunteers.

Consolidating the groups would save time making decisions on major issues, officials said.

"Our intent is to bring them all into the [Firemen's Association] meeting -- if we have an issue, we can get all these top people from each group to vote on something at one meeting, instead of waiting 30 or 60 days for them to take it back [to their group] and vote on it," said outgoing Firemen's Association President Bob Alexander.

"Consolidation does not wipe out the associations," he said. "They will remain, with their own meetings, bylaws and so on."

A committee with a representative from each fire company has worked on the consolidation plan for the past year.

The annual budget also was discussed, with most companies taking cuts from what they proposed for fiscal year 2000.

Alexander said at an emergency meeting Wednesday that the association agreed to take this year's budget figures and add 3 percent, with the 14 companies each receiving an equal share from the $138,000 increase.

The association requested more than $4.6 million from the county. County funds cover operating expenses for the association and 14 companies. The companies raise money for new equipment and construction projects.

It was announced that the association's Emergency Services Master Plan is ready to be presented to the county Planning and Zoning Committee meeting Tuesday. The master plan covers needs for fire and other emergency services in the county.

At the end of the meeting, new officers were elected and installed, along with delegates to the convention from each company.

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