Carroll County might be a step closer to shoring up the future of its fire and emergency services, by having its 14 fire companies fall under the umbrella of one official county agency and paving the way for a defined career ladder for fire and emergency responders.

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.

Last week, the work group that was formed approximately one year ago to address the organization and current issues facing fire, rescue and EMS in Carroll presented its findings to the Board of County Commissioners, including a draft proposal to change the county code, and a charter and bylaws for an Emergency Services Advisory Council to be formed. The hope is to develop a plan of getting these proposed changes and a new system implemented over the next three fiscal years, beginning with FY20 in July.


No vote was taken on the matter by the county’s elected leaders just yet, and commissioners instructed the group to work in tweaks in order to achieve buy-in from the Westminster fire company, the county’s largest department.

Westminster was the lone department to vote against the proposal, but it had less to do with the idea of the fire companies becoming a larger, organized county entity and more to do with making sure the individual companies — particularly ones like Westminster that have experienced some changes smaller companies might not have — will have a voice at the table.

It’s a fair argument, and one we hope can be worked out sooner than later. We are confident that it can and will be worked out so Carroll can start moving forward to ensure the long-term viability of its fire and emergency response services.

Presently, the county’s 14 volunteer fire companies operate as individual agencies, even though Carroll County government is one of the primary funding sources for each of the departments, it has no operational authority.

The proposed changes would have all 14 companies ultimately report to one Carroll County fire chief. The companies would maintain individual identities, something that was important, particularly for departments in smaller locales, where fire stations serve as hubs for those communities to come together.

Companies, though, would be grouped into four regions, covering central, west, north and southern parts of the county. Each region would have representatives on the advisory council. The regions would allow companies to share resources more seamlessly, as needed, to respond to emergencies.

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The organization of the fire companies was one of the topics for the Public Safety Cluster of the county’s Long Term Advisory Council.

More importantly, the proposed changes would make pay scales and classifications uniform across Carroll County, as paid employees would be treated as county government employees, not those of the individual fire companies. Again, this would make sharing or moving personnel easier to fill holes when necessary.

It would also allow Carroll County the opportunity to retain many of the paramedics who come here now to gain experience, but use the opportunity as a stepping stone to go to a neighboring county or jurisdiction. Ultimately, the goal is to have those individuals have the opportunity to progress their career in Carroll County.

There is still a ways to go before all of this is finalized, but it is definitely a step in the right direction toward securing the future of fire and EMS in Carroll County, and making sure our residents are safe and protected.