EMS and fire groups unite

Volunteer associations are combined into one after a decade of trying

`Working well together'

May 16, 2004|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

Carroll County firefighters, fire chiefs and emergency medical services personnel united yesterday after a decadelong struggle to combine the three groups and became the revamped Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association Inc.

The change also brings the predominantly male group its first female president, Marianne Warehime of the Lineboro Volunteer Fire Department. Tom Van de Bussche, the departing president of the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association, handed the gavel of leadership to Warehime.

The union of the three groups became official after officers were sworn in at the former Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association's 81st annual convention, of which the Taneytown Volunteer Fire Company was host.

"We are and have been the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association since we received our incorporation letter January 21," Van de Bussche said.

But the new group has to wait until Oct. 1 to tie up loose ends and disband the charter for the Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association because legislation for the name change doesn't take effect until then.

"We have to be a legal entity for the county to give us money," Van de Bussche said.

State Sen. Larry E. Haines, leader of the Carroll County delegation, said, "That's the norm for most bills. ... Some go into effect July 1, but anything before that is emergency legislation. It has to go in the books, and that takes time."

Warehime, who was first vice president of the Volunteer Firemen's Association this past year and second vice president before that, has been active in the changeover.

Previously, the firefighters association was the administrative branch for the firefighters, fire chiefs and ambulance associations. However, the fire chiefs and emergency medical services personnel maintained separate associations. At last year's convention, delegates from the county's 14 fire companies voted to combine into one organization in the hope of streamlining.

The new organization brings the three groups together for one monthly meeting, at which decisions can be made on issues affecting the organization.

"We've accomplished what we set out to do [this last year], and everybody is working well together," Warehime said. "The next year is going to be quite a bit of transition, and that is what we're working with, making everybody comfortable, cleaning up little things."

"We're going to have to be really cohesive to make this work," she said.

Transition Committee Chairman C. Douglas Bostian told the delegates that although progress had been made in the past year, "there's more work to be done. We're going to have some errors and we'll have to change some things, but we'll do it as they come up."

The new association will include five delegates from each fire company, who will attend the monthly meetings: president, fire chief, ambulance captain and two at-large representatives. The group will meet at a different firehouse each month instead of at the fire training grounds in Westminster.

Warehime's main goal is "just making sure this first year goes as smoothly as possible."

She stressed that she intends to keep active members involved in this year of transition "because these guys have been doing this for a long time, and we need their expertise."

Other officers elected at the convention were E. Richard Baker Jr. of Mount Airy, first vice president; Richard Green Sr. of Gamber, second vice president; Ralph Dull of Manchester, secretary; and Dennis Brothers of Gamber, treasurer.

The ladies auxiliary to the firefighters group held its 62nd annual convention yesterday, electing officers during an afternoon meeting.

Auxiliary officers for 2004-2005 are Mary Jo Lilley of Lineboro, president; Sharon Sidler of Mount Airy, first vice president; Jeanne Green of Gamber, second vice president; June Black of Sykesville, secretary; Barbara Zepp of Winfield, treasurer; Kim Thomas of Pleasant Valley, historian; and Kristina Rodgers of Harney, chaplain.

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