The Prince George’s County, Maryland Government has taken most of the steps necessary to ensure the death of a vital institution in Public Safety “Volunteer Fire Fighters”. The disastrous moves against the volunteers are so remarkable one has to wonder why out loud. Prince George’s County, Maryland, citizens have relied on the volunteers for fire and emergency services protection for decades. Prince George’s County, Maryland, spends per capita less money on fire protection than most of the jurisdictions in the region and the reason chiefly is because of the service volunteers provide.
Recently Prince George’s County removed volunteer influence over an eleven million dollar budget, stripped volunteer leaders of their prestige, power, dignity and influence, removed staffing from several co-managed fire stations, gutted the Fire Commission and damaged the image of the volunteers in the eyes of the public. Why is this occurring? Of course the citizens in the future want to pay millions of dollars more for public safety as a result of these questionable practices. Why invest in an old institution that has proven value to the citizens and can given them a return on their investment for years to come? I understand the Executive Branch wants to reduce spending on education and pay more for public safety. God knows fire fighters need more money for pay and benefits, and it has to come from somewhere.
Why invest to build the volunteer fire fighters up when you can “guarantee” fire protection for millions of dollars more? Who needs a system that trains the youth of the County to provide a vital service and to give them opportunities to serve in one of the most employment rich sectors for fire service in the United States? Why have an organization where the children of the County can aspire to opportunities of public service?
All of the moves being made in Prince George’s County to build the paid service can be done without destroying a vital institution that has contributed so much to the cultural heritage of the people of Prince George’s County. I am all for paying millions more to the fire service and investing millions more to ensure fire and emergency services protection. As a retiree I would also like the citizens to add millions more to ensuring the health of the pension system. If the actions against the volunteers are not about building up public safety what is the goal? Destroying public participation is not civilized behavior.