No career firefighters at 4 Prince George’s fire stations

Andrew Mollenbeck, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Four fire stations in Prince George’s County will go without paid career staff, as firefighters are redeployed to meet efficiency and budget demands.

Volunteers and nearby companies will continue to respond to calls, and Fire Chief Marc Bashoor has made clear the department is not losing personnel.

Overall, response capabilities are supposed to be enhanced by the reassignment.

“The [four] stations are not being closed,” Bashoor says.

“Every station will be open 24 hours a day and available for any volunteer coverage.”

Effective March 4, career staff are redeployed from Seat Pleasant Station 808, Branchville Station 811, Boulevard Heights Station 817 and West Lanham Hills Station 828.

“Frankly I can’t continue to justify staffing locations that are three-quarters of a mile apart from each other,” Bashoor says.

“The budget and the contractual obligations are things that drove us to where I needed to do it now.”

Last month, Bashoor sent a memorandum to the Department about Monday’s reorganization.

“It’s part of a comprehensive analysis of our staffing,” Bashoor tells WTOP.

“It’s also a combination of an effort to live up to the contractual mandates I have to live up to in an attempt to control our overtime.”

He says paid firefighters are being reassigned from locations that have multiple fire stations and response capability nearby. Their relocation allows for additional service at other stations.

For example, Seat Pleasant has had round-the-clock coverage with a two-person crew.

With consolidation, the fire department can guarantee coverage with five people at Capitol Heights, just 3/4 of a mile away. Additionally, a dedicated engine and ambulance will be available that were not before the move.

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