"We want all the companies on the same page, as opposed to each doing their own thing," said Robert B. Thomas Jr., county spokesman.
Harford's volunteer service accounts for less than 2 percent of the county budget and posts the lowest per capita costs in the metropolitan region at nearly $37 per resident. Baltimore County, which operates a combined system, allocates nearly 6 percent of its budget to fire and emergency services and its per capita cost is $116, according to data collected by the Maryland Association of Counties.
Harford Councilman Joe Woods, the former fire chief in Fallston and a lifelong volunteer, said he wants the commission to "be a tool that helps us all" and one that involves all stakeholders.
"Who better to serve on this commission than the guys on the streets protecting citizens?" he asked. "As for accountability, audits and budgets, we are already doing that."
Craig named an 11-member commission with Tony Bennett, a longtime Aberdeen volunteer and business owner, as chairman, and several members who are active in the fire service.
"The fundamental role of local government is to provide best protection at the best possible range," Craig said.