MCFRS News Release

Fire and Rescue Budget Highlights

Fire and Rescue Budget Enhancements put a Focus on Staffing and Response Times; New Budget Exceeds $190 million

The Montgomery County Council has approved a $4.3 billion dollar operating budget on for Fiscal Year 2009, which begins on July 1, 2008. The over $190 million dollar Fire and Rescue Service budget will mean a continuation of current levels of emergency, fire prevention and emergency medical services and addresses some plans for fire and rescue service now and in the near future.  Although an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Ambulance Transport Fee was proposed and discussed, it was not included by the County Council in the upcoming Fire and Rescue budget.

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 levels and future moves toward ‘four-person staffing’ on all fire and rescue response units, supporting the federal SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant which provides funding for additional firefighters, as well as fund an additional twenty-seven (27) new firefighter positions in conjunction with the opening of a new fire-rescue station in Germantown-Kingsview in Spring 2009.

The total Fiscal Year 2009 Operating Budget for the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is about $192 million, an increase of 1.2% from Fiscal Year 2008.  
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 one reason why we are adding new firefighters and opening a new fire station in Germantown-Kingsview.”

The approved budget increase in funding for the Fire and Rescue Service will add a total of twenty-seven (27) new firefighters and continue the implementation of the second phase of increased staffing on fire apparatus to four (4) firefighters.  The budget also allows for maintaining EMS ‘Flex’ units and current service levels in areas such as Glen Echo, Laytonsville and Hillandale.  A new Program Manager position was also approved and will coordinate the Senior Citizen Fire Safety Task Force and its injury prevention, fire safety and wellness program recommendations.

The County Council’s approved budget again 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 was believed to be the first and only known such arrangement for a volunteer fire/rescue organization in the United States.  After being negotiated and funded last year for the first time, another agreement has been bargained and approved for a second term.

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.  It is believed that the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service is the largest, internationally accredited, combination (career/volunteer) fire and rescue agency in the United States.

  The MCFRS operates with a budget of about $192 million and is comprised of over 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.  Annually, personnel and equipment respond to over 105,000 emergency incidents, including about 80,000 medical calls for assistance.