MCFRS News Release

Emergency Medical Response Upgrades and Fire-Rescue Staffing Improvements Initiated

Four-person staffing on emergency apparatus and expansion of paramedic coverage has begun

In order to reduce response times for paramedics to life-threatening emergencies and improve firefighter safety on the scenes of fires and other emergencies, thus significantly enhancing firefighting operations extinguishing those fires, effective this week, the first phase of a four-person staffing plan has been implemented within the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service. The fiscal year '07 budget provides this additional staffing for eight units.

County Executive Isiah Leggett's fiscal year '08 proposed budget recommendations support continuation of Montgomery County Fire Chief Tom Carr's plans to move towards four-person staffing on all fire and rescue response units, as well as broadening Fire Code Enforcement capabilities by adding more inspectors and supporting the federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant which provides funding for additional firefighter positions.

Fire stations in phase one that are designated to have four-person staffing are:

Units in all of the aforementioned fire stations will operate with at least one paramedic assigned, making them an 'AFRA' or ALS (advanced life support) First Responder Apparatus (AFRA).

After about one year of "piloting a team of one paramedic and one emergency medical technician" or the "1+1" ALS (advanced life support - paramedic) delivery model, it was determined that this is a more effective use of paramedics and provided greater coverage. This "1+1" ALS delivery strategy will be extended to significant areas of the County, thus reducing paramedic response times.

As part of this rebalancing of staffing, Gaithersburg, FS8, the busiest fire station in the County will now have four units staffed with paramedics, including two ALS transport units and two fire/rescue first response units (AFRA), in addition to one basic life support ambulance and one "Flex ambulance unit. Germantown, FS 29, will be staffed with two paramedics one on an ALS transport unit, and one on a fire/rescue first response (AFRA) unit, as well as an additional basic life support ambulance unit."

It is anticipated that in September 2007, four (4) additional units will be brought up to four-person staffing levels when firefighters hired in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security funded grant of $1.2 million for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant will graduate from Recruit class #30. The SAFER grant funded twelve (12) firefighter positions.

Thirty-seven (37) like-pumpers are being ordered to carry the all-hazard mission of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) into the future, the first of which is expected to be delivered soon. The cost per unit will be about $435,000 each. The first unit will serve not only as a 'model' pumper, but will function as the 'hands-on' training and systems evaluation rig while construction begins on the remaining 36 units.

We expect delivery of approximately six (6) units every four (4) months so that in about 24 months from now every first-line MCFRS engine company will be operating with a full featured, precisely equipped modern pumper fire engine.

The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and the Montgomery County Department of Police are also participating in the Federal First Responder Access Credentialing (FRAC) pilot program. This program, which provides an ID card to first responders who may need to enter a disaster scene through access points controlled by federal, state or local authorities, is part of an effort to test national credentialing system for emergency service workers. The access card will allow the controlling authorities to authenticate the identity of the card holder, verify their affiliation and Emergency Support Function (ESF) and determine their authorization to enter a controlled incident scene based on their ESF. Cards are being distributed to selected career and volunteer members.

The Montgomery County (MD) Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is a full spectrum life safety agency protecting nearly 1 million people who live and work in Maryland's most populous jurisdiction. Under the direction of County Fire Chief Tom Carr, the MCFRS is a combination system (career/volunteer) in the suburban Washington, D.C. area, operating with an annual budget of about $195 million. The MCFRS annually handles about 100,000 emergency calls for service and is staffed by nearly 1200 career uniformed personnel and professional civilian staff and an equal number of volunteers, nearly half of whom are actively involved in emergency response.