Michael Robinson Sr. was recently appointed by the Board of County Commissioners to serve as the director of the Carroll County Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, a position he began on Sept. 9.
Robinson’s background includes 46 years of experience in several fire/EMS organizations. His primary career in the fire service involved nearly 33 years with the Baltimore County Fire Department where he retired as a deputy fire chief in 2015 after having served in various leadership-level positions.
In addition, he is an associate professor in the fire and emergency management program at Purdue University, teaches at the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute of the University of Maryland, and was an adjunct instructor for 31 years at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg.
The new director shared with the Times how his previous experience has prepared him to take on this new position and his plans for the department, including the development of a combination fire and EMS system to ensure the protection of life and property in the county.
Q: What other leadership roles have you held?
A: Throughout my career I’ve been fortunate to hold many leadership roles and currently am in my 32nd year as the chairperson of the state’s fire service credentialing organization, known as the Maryland Fire Service Personnel Qualifications Board. Previously, I was appointed by multiple governors to the Maryland Fire Rescue Education Training Commission, serving four successive four-year terms. I was a member of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association executive board for a 10-year period and served as president of the Anne Arundel County Volunteer Firefighter’s Association for three terms and as a member of the county executive- appointed Fire Advisory Board for two terms. While in Baltimore County, I served as president of the Baltimore County Fire Chief’s Association and led many departmental initiatives. At the national level, I was a member of the National Board on Fire Service Professional Qualifications Committee on Accreditation and served on several committees with the National Fire Protection Association as well as the International Association of Fire Chiefs. I also chaired for several years an organization known as Training Resources and Data Exchange, or TRADE, which was a group of the training chiefs of the nation’s major fire departments and each state training agency. My career demonstrates my passion for being an advocate for fire and EMS training and safety.
Q; How will your previous experiences help you in your current role?
A: I have what I believe to be a diverse background in both fire and EMS and have served in both operational and administrative roles. My capabilities include significant experience as an Incident commander, operations shift commander and paramedic/clinician. I’ve also served in roles such as public information officer, training officer, EMS officer, budget, policy, and administration. I have an extensive volunteer and career background and can relate and empathize with the challenges of both entities. Most importantly, I believe I can bring both elements together into a working relationship based upon mutual respect. Carroll County is committed to a combination delivery system where both career and volunteer components will work symbiotically to provide a standard of excellence in all aspects of our department.
Q: How would you describe your experiences in your position so far?
A: Despite a significant workload, my experience has been nothing but positive! Carroll County government is an outstanding and nurturing environment. From the county commissioners and their staff to my counterparts in other agencies, everyone has been enthusiastic to both welcome me and to facilitate my getting what I need to navigate the county system. The members of the volunteer fire/EMS system welcomed me into their stations and are already developing positive relationships. The size of county government in Carroll is such that you feel a congenial atmosphere even if I have yet to remember everyone’s name. We all seem to have a common mission and sense of purpose.
Q: What do you wish to achieve as the Fire and EMS director?
A: As the Fire and EMS director I aspire to become a leader and facilitator of the system. That means I can work collaboratively with all the involved parties and resources to integrate into a system that can deliver prompt, efficient and compassionate fire/EMS services consistently throughout Carroll County. It is my objective to do this efficiently and cost effectively within the parameters of county government. I also plan to create and maintain a partnership with the volunteer fire/EMS departments and to support and enhance them as a critical component of our system. Most importantly, I recognize that the citizens and visitors who request our services must be the focal point of everything we do. When they call 911, they entrust their lives to us and we will deliver on their expectations to create order out of chaos to resolve their emergency.
Q: Do you have a plan for the combination of the county’s fire and EMS system?
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A: Yes, there is a plan, and it is constantly evolving and is ongoing. The plan looks at our current delivery system and evaluates our statistical data. Based on 2020 census data, the county has approximately 172,000 residents in addition to a daily workforce and the county must ensure coverage for their needs. We will identify the needs for both fire and EMS delivery and then match our resources to meet those needs. This is already in progress in several phases to include required staffing and other needed resources. We must also have an administrative infrastructure that supports and validates our services through quality assurance. Our team has begun a strategic planning process, which will assess all critical areas of our operations and administration. This plan will serve as our “blueprint” to guide us forward. In the interim, our current operating platform will continue to function as we provide incremental enhancements.