The citizens in the State of Maryland are blessed to have a very large contingent of dedicated citizens who devote themselves to life saving acts everyday for no pay. Do the citizens ever think to check on the welfare and health of the volunteer system? In Prince George’s County, Maryland, it appears that volunteer fire and rescue services are not as important as they once were. Resources are dwindling and have been stripped from the volunteer service rendering volunteers significantly less effective. When a group of people dedicate themselves to the good of the citizenry you would think people would pour out their hearts and support for a group as vital as volunteer fire fighters.
It seems that by the time citizens realize the volunteers are hurting from budget cuts and subsequently the citizens will pay a premium for services they once got for pennies on the dollar. Many jurisdictions have moved away from receiving and relying on volunteer services so this trend is nothing new. The important point is that citizens need to make an informed decision about how their services will be delivered. Many jurisdictions have not been able to afford an all paid service. Cuts to the fire service abound all over the Country as budgets lose revenue. Paid fire fighters are wrongly blamed for budget shortfalls and citizens look to break their commitment to dedicated employees who are promised livable wages and pensions. Don’t look to blame anyone, (paid or volunteer) look to repair and rebuild the system.
Before the fire service becomes “too expensive” in the County think about the health of the volunteer system and improve it. Sure you can raise taxes to cover the costs of hiring more paid fire fighters but soon even new revenue will not be enough. Look to Detroit, California and other jurisdictions who have to wait too long for services because the fire and rescue system was neglected. Before you complain how long it takes to get the service, check to see if you have done your part to keep your fire and rescue service healthy.