Carroll County took another step on the journey to a combination fire service Thursday, after the Carroll County commissioners voted to hold a public hearing on a new ordinance that would guide the future of local fire and emergency services.

The board voted unanimously to hold a public hearing on the proposed ordinance at a future date, with the charter and bylaws for a proposed Emergency Services Advisory Council included as points of discussion at the hearing.


A combination fire service means the mixing of paid, career firefighters with the volunteer firefighters that have long been the mainstay of Carroll’s 14 volunteer fire companies.

The previous board of commissioners, as well as the Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association, or CCVESA, began serious discussions about a combined service in 2017 as it had become clear decreasing levels of volunteers would begin to impact fire companies going forward.

“The major challenge for the fire companies right now is one word and that’s ‘manpower,’ ” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, told the Times in September 2017. “There’s just not enough folks to pull from, especially daytime hours, and it’s even getting challenging in the evening, too.”

In January 2018, the Carroll County delegation to the Maryland General Assembly approved enabling legislation that gave the county government the ability to exercise authority over the county’s fire companies for the first time, which would allow for an eventual Carroll County Department of Fire and Rescue Services, as it is spelled out in the documents the commissioners discussed at their Thursday meeting.

Carroll delegation moves forward with CCVESA enabling legislation

Members of the Carroll County delegation unanimously approved moving forward with an enabling legislation that would provide the county government the ability, if it chooses, to exercise authority over the county’s volunteer fire services for the first time.

A chief of that proposed new department would be one person to sit on the proposed new Emergency Services Advisory Council, according to Tim Brown, a member of the CCVESA workgroup that has spent two years shaping the foundations of the future combination service.

That council would also include representatives of the volunteer fire companies — one from each of four groups of multiple fire companies — the chair of the committee of fire company chiefs, three citizen representatives, two career fire staff representatives, the president of CCVESA and one of the county commissioners, according to Brown.

Brown noted that the fire companies voted 13-1 for that proposed makeup for the council at a March 20 meeting.

During Thursday’s meeting, it was the career representatives who drew the attention of Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3.

“At least one needs to be a union member,” he said at the meeting. “I don’t think that’s a major change, I’d just like to see it spelled out.”

The Carroll County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Local 5184 — a union representing the paid, career firefighting and emergency medical staff in the Carroll fire service — was chartered in July 2018, though it is not recognized as a collective bargaining unit by county government.

Carroll County’s fire, rescue and EMS might be joining forces to improve services

Carroll County’s fire, rescue and emergency medical services might be joining forces over the course of the next three years to become an official county agency to improve its services for employees, volunteers and the community.

Wantz opposed Frazier’s proposal, noting that the existing language in the proposed ordinance would give the commissioners the authority to appoint those they want to the council.

“We’ve got the ability to put that on there anyway,” Wantz said, “without it specifically saying that.”

“But that’s this board,” Frazier responded. “What about the next one? That’s what I’m saying.”

Frazier ultimately made a motion to require at least one of the career representatives to be a union member, and the motion passed 3-1, with Wantz voting against and Commissioner Richard Weaver, R-District 2, abstaining.


The board as a whole then approved having the county attorney’s office prepare the proposed ordinance ahead of a public hearing, the date of which is to be determined but which county staff members agreed should occur within six weeks.

That wait time is fine with the CCVESA working group, according to Brown.

“We still have a lot of work to do,” he said, “but this is the foundation and we really need to get this moving in order to move forward.”