Md. volunteers praised for saving station staffing

By Dave Statter

PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — While the fate of the Calverton firehouse (Station 841) in Prince George's County, Maryland may have been a bit unclear yesterday, with discussions about it being unstaffed or closed, today it is different story. As learned early this morning, actions by the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Department's membership will allow PGFD to keep staffing at Calverton.

As part of it's new staffing plan, officially unveiled yesterday, Chief Eugene Jones announced fire and EMS calls would no longer be run out of Station 841. The staffing would be moved to Station 831 (Beltsville).

At its meeting last night, Beltsville members voted not to accept the beefed up career staffing. Instead, Station 831 will give up the two career firefighter positions it currently has on evenings and weekends. Starting Sunday, with the exception of the day shift Monday through Friday, Station 831 will always be staffed by volunteers.

PGFD says freeing up the career firefighters allows the department to keep staffing at Calverton.

In a press release issued by PGFD, Chief Jones is quoted as saying, "This decision is just another example of how the volunteers from around the County have been contributing during these tough economic times and ensuring that the Prince George’s County Fire/EMS Department continues to provide the best possible services to our citizens and residents.”

Under the new staffing plan career firefighters are still scheduled to be removed from Stations 805 (Capitol Heights), 813 (Riverdale Heights) and 844 (Chillum). Stations 805 and 813 have a limited number of volunteers who are not expected to be able to staff the station around the clock. Station 844 has no volunteers, but will stay open with a career medic crew.

As we reported earlier, even though the new plan permanently removes career firefighters from three stations, the rotating removal of career crews that began July 1 will continue to be used. It is part of an effort to further reduce overtime spending. But the Volunteer Staffing Utilization (VSU) program will now impact fewer firehouses and increase the number of days between rotations. A proposed August VSU calendar reflecting these changes has been supplied to by a PGFD source.

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