Members of a group seeking to restore fire and ambulance service to the Fairplay area outlined their plans Tuesday and asked for the support of the Washington County Board of Commissioners.
“We want to say thank you to the commissioners who are supporting our efforts,” said Tim Almany, president of Citizens for Restoration of Fire and EMS to District 12 Area. He then asked Commissioner Terry Baker for his support, “to make it unanimous.”
In January, the commissioners voted 4-1 to no longer recognize or fund Fairplay Volunteer Fire Department. Baker cast the dissenting vote.
“I am very supportive of your organization,” Baker told Almany, who was accompanied by several other people wearing the organization’s red T-shirts. “I just didn’t think it was my position to get involved in shutting down a fire company” because it is a private entity, Baker said.
“They shut themselves down” because of a 26 percent rate of failing to respond to calls, Commissioner Jeffrey Cline said of Fairplay.
Since Funkstown, Sharpsburg, Boonsboro and WIlliamsport fire companies have taken on the additional duty of responding to Fairplay calls, the failed response rate is less than 1 percent, Almany said.
“Those statistics are outstanding,” Baker said.
“If you all become a (fire) company, and I believe you will, I support you,” Baker said.
Formed in March, Citizens for Restoration has been holding fundraisers, Almany told the commissioners during the public comment period Tuesday. Reiterating what he said in an interview last week, Almany told the commissioners that the group is incorporated with the state and is seeking 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.
The money raised will be used for a legal fund “for the citizens of our community to help regain control of Company 12 and its assets,” Almany said. If that effort is unsuccessful, he said, the money will go to “establish a new company or substation in our community.”
A 2012 task force that studied the issues of failed responses by Fairplay came up with 32 recommendations, one of which was to remove President William Pennington and Chief Leonard Heller, Almany said after the meeting with the board.
Many of the people in this group are among 78 who submitted applications to join Fairplay earlier this year — 50 as social members and 28 as qualified fire and emergency medical personnel, Almany told the board.
Commissioner William McKinley asked Almany what happened to the applications and the $5 application fees.
“That’s a question for the leadership of Company 12,” Almany replied.
Last week, Almany said the applications had not been acted upon.
Pennington said last week that the applications were not processed because they came with a cover letter advising the company not to act on them unless its board and leadership resigned.