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New proposal would keep paid staff at Ferndale fire station on weekdays

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Responding to opposition to a plan that would have removed all paid firefighters from the Ferndale station, Fire Chief Roger C. Simonds Sr. proposed yesterday staffing the stations at Riviera Beach and Ferndale weekdays, leaving weekends and evenings to volunteers.

Under the latest proposal, the two stations would keep two career firefighters weekdays between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Paid workers would staff the county's paramedic unit at Riviera Beach 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Simonds said.

Volunteers, who had been concerned about the staff cuts, said they were optimistic about the latest proposal from Simonds, who must cut $500,000 in expenses under the budget County Executive Janet S. Owens will present today.

"Whatever we're needed to do to help, we'll do it," said Kenneth B. Hyde Sr., Riviera Beach volunteer fire chief.

Fire officials initially proposed turning the Ferndale station into an all-volunteer operation, which was immediately criticized by volunteer staff and community leaders who feared emergency service would be affected in northern Anne Arundel County.

Ferndale volunteer chief Jackie Olson said she worried that enough volunteers wouldn't be available to adequately staff the station during the day.

The compromise would still reduce the Fire Department's expenditures, Fire Division Chief John M. Scholz said. But, he said, it was based on discussions with volunteers.

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