Council Committees Meet on March 13, Volunteer Firefighters on Agenda
The Montgomery County Council’s Public Safety Committee at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 13, will receive an update on recruitment and retention for volunteer firefighters and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) personnel.
The Public Safety Committee, which is chaired by Phil Andrews and includes Councilmembers Roger Berliner and Marc Elrich, will meet in the Seventh Floor Hearing Room of the Council Office Building at 100 Maryland Ave. in Rockville. The meeting will be televised live by County Cable Montgomery (CCM—Cable Channel 6 on Comcast and RCN, Channel 30 on Verizon). The broadcast also will be streamed through the County Web site at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council/ondemand/index.html .
The Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service (MCFRS) is a combination system, with both career and volunteer personnel providing first response fire and emergency medical services. The dynamic of volunteer participation in public safety response has changed nationwide over time, as the nature of family and work time commitments has changed for individuals and commuting and other time demands have increased.
Montgomery County maintains a strong volunteer involvement in fire and emergency response, significantly strengthening its overall fire and rescue service delivery structure.
A report to be discussed shows Montgomery County appears to be showing success in maintaining fairly steady volunteer participation numbers in recent years. This is in contrast to often declining volunteer participation in many areas nationwide. Participation data show generally stable or increasing participation as well. The number of resignations is down significantly, from 599 in 2010 to 311 in 2013.
The committee also will receive an update on the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT).
The CERT Program is under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In December 2013, the CERT Team celebrated 10 years of active service in Montgomery County. The CERT Team is trained to assist in basic disaster response skills during emergencies. CERT Teams are nationally recognized models of expanding emergency response capacity.
The CERT team is housed in the MCFRS and has one program manager and a small amount of grant and County funding. CERT members are required to take 30 hours of instruction and hands-on training over a five-week period. Additional ongoing training is offered as well.
Other Council Committee News
At 9:30 a.m. in the Third Floor Council Conference Room, the Health and Human Services Committee, which is chaired by George Leventhal and includes Councilmembers Nancy Navarro and Craig Rice, will receive updates from the Department of Health and Human Services Director Uma Ahluwalia on the department’s initiatives and activities and trends in the County’s safety net programs.