Harford panel considers need for pool of reserve fire equipment

A study of the Harford County's fire and EMS service conducted two years ago included a recommendation for reserve vehicles to be made available for fire companies as needed.

That recommendation has yet to be implemented, however, as fire officials seek greater discussion and study of the issue.

During the Harford Public Safety Commission's monthly meeting Thursday at the Joppa-Magnolia Volunteer Fire Company, chairman Tony Bennett said a committee had been formed within the commission to study the backup equipment issue, but its members have not yet made a recommendation.

Donald Thomas, a member of the Darlington Volunteer Fire Company, brought up the matter.

He asked whether reserve equipment would be the responsibility of the county or the fire companies.

"The thinking of the committee was that individual companies shouldn't have to maintain reserve equipment, and that if we got into reserve equipment the appropriate way to do it would be for the county to have a pool of equipment," Bennett responded. "What that pool would consist of, who knows, but [the county] would have the ability to keep those units maintained."

Bennett noted the Aberdeen Fire Department, of which he is a longtime member, had a difficult experience keeping a reserve fire truck maintained years ago – he said the truck was used by sister companies if they needed it.

He said later that the truck ran well as long as it was in use, but it became an issue if it sat unused for many months.

"You don't want to be jumping fire trucks," he said.

Bennett said the county would be in a better position to maintain reserve vehicles since it has staff dedicated to vehicle maintenance.

He stressed fire officials still would need to obtain "county buy-in."

"It needs a whole lot more discussion, really," Bennett said following Thursday's meeting.

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