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Carroll County’s first combination fire/EMS department is born

In a historic moment, the Board of County Commissioners officially established Carroll County’s first combination fire and emergency medical services department Thursday.

The Maryland General Assembly in 2018 passed enabling legislation allowing the county government to establish the department. The years-long effort came to a close Thursday morning when the commissioners unanimously voted to create a new chapter in the county code of ordinances, marking the birth of the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services.

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“This is a big day in our history here in Carroll,” Commissioner Stephen Wantz, R-District 1, said in the meeting.

Wantz has spent years in the fire service and, during his 2012 campaign for commissioner, ran on the idea of starting a combination department. Also with him through the early years of the idea’s development were Commissioners Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, and Richard Weaver, R-District 2. Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association (CCVESA) had an active role, with some of its members serving on a work group that offered opinions on how best to shape the department.

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A panel of county officials and CCVESA members spent months narrowing a field of dozens of applicants who sought to become the first director. Bob McCoy, who has 37 years of fire service experience in places including Prince George’s County and York County, Pennsylvania, started in the role July 9.

“I am excited and honored to be the first director for the new department and help lead in its development, but there is a lot of work ahead,” McCoy said in a county news release Thursday. “I would like to thank all the partners in this initiative for their hard work thus far and for the anticipated work that is before us.”

Though the goal of establishing a department has been reached, much work remains before residents see firefighters emblazoned with a Carroll County uniform patch.

The next step is for the commissioners to appoint members of the Emergency Services Advisory Council, which will meet monthly to serve as an advisory body and help shape department policies. The council is to be composed of 11 voting members, including three citizens who are not affiliated with fire and EMS.

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McCoy will build and staff the department, with the commissioners' approval. The commissioners must also find space in their budget to support this endeavor, as the department budget currently includes little more than the director’s salary.

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