MCFRS News Release

Fire and Rescue Budget Highlights

Fire and Rescue Budget Enhancements put a Focus on Staffing and Response Times

The Montgomery County Council has unanimously approved a $4.1 billion dollar operating budget on for Fiscal Year 2008, which begins on July 1. The nearly $190 million dollar Fire and Rescue Service budget will enhance current level of emergency and fire prevention services and address some plans for fire and rescue service now and in the near future.

As recommended by County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Fire Chief Tom Carr, the approved budget contains funding for a continuation of plans to increase staffing and to move towards four-person staffing on all fire and rescue response units, 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 firefighters.

The total Fiscal Year 2008 Operating Budget for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is $ 189 million, an increase of 6.4% from Fiscal Year 2007.

When presenting his proposed budget several weeks ago, County Executive Leggett noted, "We depend on our public safety workers to protect our families and our property. Fire and Rescue response times have increased in some areas of the County." He added, "That can literally mean the difference between life and death. That's why we are adding 58 new firefighters."

An approved budget increase in funding for the Fire and Rescue Service will add a total of fifty-eight (58) new firefighters, to include for expansion of the Fire Code Enforcement Section, adding twenty-two (22) new inspectors and implementing the second phase of increased staffing on fire apparatus to four (4) firefighters that will add an additional thirty-six (36) firefighter positions to the fire and rescue force.

The additional fire inspectors will provide more adequate county-wide coverage to regularly inspect all new and existing building fire protection systems, not only to ensure operability, but compliance, as well.

Funding for phase-two of the 'four-person' staffing initiative on all fire apparatus, includes the aforementioned thirty-six (36) firefighter positions that will provide a fourth firefighter/paramedic on each of eight (8) units to ensure safety, effectiveness and improve overall response times. This effort doubles the number of unit's that now have four-person staffing.

These improvements will reduce response times by dramatically expanding the number of fire fighters and emergency medical technicians available at any given time needed to respond to the increasing number of emergency calls. Over seventy percent (70%) of all emergency responses are medical calls.

Furthermore, in this year's approved budget is the County's matching funds of $345,000 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. The SAFER grant funds twelve (12) firefighter positions.

All career and volunteer firefighters in Montgomery County are also trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). In addition there are about two hundred and thirty (230) Paramedics. The County Council also approved funding to expand the fleet of Montgomery County emergency medical units by supporting another EMS 'Flex Unit'.

The basic mission of the MCFRS 'flex units' is to provide additional EMS transport capability during peak call volume times with a focus in the busiest geographical regions of the county in terms of medical response call volume. Providing additional transport capacity, will allow the Advanced Life Support (ALS) or paramedic transport units to be more effectively utilized for serious life threatening emergency calls. The 'flex units' will generally operate out of the geographical regions assigned, such as Gaithersburg/Germantown, Aspen Hill, Silver Spring, and Rockville.

The County Council's approved budget also supports and recognizes the 'first ever' Direct Negotiation Agreement between Montgomery County Government and the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. This 'labor' agreement is believed to be the first and only known such arrangement for a volunteer fire/rescue organization in the United States.

Under the direction of Fire Chief Tom Carr, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is a full spectrum life safety agency protecting nearly 1 million people who live and work in Maryland's most populous jurisdiction. The MCFRS is a combination system (career/volunteer), operating with a budget of about $190 million, comprised of nearly 1200 career uniformed personnel and professional civilian staff and an equal number of volunteers, nearly half of whom actively participate in emergency response. There are over forty fire and rescue facilities, including a 56 acre training academy, state-of-the-art communication facility, as well as thirty-four (34) community fire and rescue stations strategically located throughout Montgomery County's 500 square miles in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. The Montgomery County Council has unanimously approved a $4.1 billion dollar operating budget on for Fiscal Year 2008, which begins on July 1. The nearly $190 million dollar Fire and Rescue Service budget will enhance current level of emergency and fire prevention services and address some plans for fire and rescue service now and in the near future.

As recommended by County Executive Isiah Leggett and County Fire Chief Tom Carr, the approved budget contains funding for a continuation of plans to increase staffing and to move towards four-person staffing on all fire and rescue response units, 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 firefighters.

The total Fiscal Year 2008 Operating Budget for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is $ 189 million, an increase of 6.4% from Fiscal Year 2007.

When presenting his proposed budget several weeks ago, County Executive Leggett noted, "We depend on our public safety workers to protect our families and our property. Fire and Rescue response times have increased in some areas of the County." He added, "That can literally mean the difference between life and death. That's why we are adding 58 new firefighters."

An approved budget increase in funding for the Fire and Rescue Service will add a total of fifty-eight (58) new firefighters, to include for expansion of the Fire Code Enforcement Section, adding twenty-two (22) new inspectors and implementing the second phase of increased staffing on fire apparatus to four (4) firefighters that will add an additional thirty-six (36) firefighter positions to the fire and rescue force.

The additional fire inspectors will provide more adequate county-wide coverage to regularly inspect all new and existing building fire protection systems, not only to ensure operability, but compliance, as well.

Funding for phase-two of the 'four-person' staffing initiative on all fire apparatus, includes the aforementioned thirty-six (36) firefighter positions that will provide a fourth firefighter/paramedic on each of eight (8) units to ensure safety, effectiveness and improve overall response times. This effort doubles the number of unit's that now have four-person staffing.

These improvements will reduce response times by dramatically expanding the number of fire fighters and emergency medical technicians available at any given time needed to respond to the increasing number of emergency calls. Over seventy percent (70%) of all emergency responses are medical calls.

Furthermore, in this year's approved budget is the County's matching funds of $345,000 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. The SAFER grant funds twelve (12) firefighter positions.

All career and volunteer firefighters in Montgomery County are also trained as Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT). In addition there are about two hundred and thirty (230) Paramedics. The County Council also approved funding to expand the fleet of Montgomery County emergency medical units by supporting another EMS 'Flex Unit'.

The basic mission of the MCFRS 'flex units' is to provide additional EMS transport capability during peak call volume times with a focus in the busiest geographical regions of the county in terms of medical response call volume. Providing additional transport capacity, will allow the Advanced Life Support (ALS) or paramedic transport units to be more effectively utilized for serious life threatening emergency calls. The 'flex units' will generally operate out of the geographical regions assigned, such as Gaithersburg/Germantown, Aspen Hill, Silver Spring, and Rockville.

The County Council's approved budget also supports and recognizes the 'first ever' Direct Negotiation Agreement between Montgomery County Government and the Montgomery County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. This 'labor' agreement is believed to be the first and only known such arrangement for a volunteer fire/rescue organization in the United States.

Under the direction of Fire Chief Tom Carr, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is a full spectrum life safety agency protecting nearly 1 million people who live and work in Maryland's most populous jurisdiction. The MCFRS is a combination system (career/volunteer), operating with a budget of about $190 million, comprised of nearly 1200 career uniformed personnel and professional civilian staff and an equal number of volunteers, nearly half of whom actively participate in emergency response. There are over forty fire and rescue facilities, including a 56 acre training academy, state-of-the-art communication facility, as well as thirty-four (34) community fire and rescue stations strategically located throughout Montgomery County's 500 square miles in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area.