FIRE DEPARTMENT: EXPANDING VOLUNTEER SERVICES

10-B
FIRE DEPARTMENT: EXPANDING VOLUNTEER SERVICES

 

Problem Identification:
Utilization of volunteer services is extremely limited, particularly in comparison to adjoining jurisdictions. This resource is virtually untapped.

Recommended Action:
Explore expansions of volunteer personnel utilization through appropriate pilot projects.

Classification:
Cost Savings, Organizational, Service Improvement

Functional/Operational Area:
All Department operations

Estimated Annual Impact:
While the immediate financial impact cannot be estimated, the potential financial impact, based on experience in adjoining jurisdictions, could reach into millions of dollars. Service enhancement could be significant.

Estimated Implementation Cost:
None

Barriers to Implementation:
Institutional reluctance and union concerns.

Projected Implementation:
180 days

Next Step:
Request technical assistance from the Maryland State Volunteer Fireman’s Association and Volunteer Fireman’s Associations in adjoining jurisdictions in the development of a volunteer component. Explore opportunities for pilot projects such as utilizing volunteers to staff selected stations that are slated for closing as an option for the community. Consider utilizing volunteers to staff the special units such as the air cascade or hose units. Research the number of City emergency service personnel who are volunteering in other jurisdictions. Solicit input from the existing auxiliary firefighters group.

Analysis:
Adjoining jurisdictions make extensive use of volunteer fire and emergency medical services’annually saving these jurisdictions millions of dollars in costs. Volunteers staffing fire engines, trucks, and medic units provide levels of service comparable to career professionals.

In Baltimore City, volunteer service is limited in scope and function. There are fewer than a dozen volunteers (auxiliary firefighters) and their service at fire scenes is very limited. While there does not appear to be great interest in the BCFD to substantially expand the role of volunteers, the positive experiences in neighboring counties, coupled with the City’s projected budget deficits, suggests a closer analysis of this option.