Plan to remove career firefighters from Beltsville station has some residents upset

The Beltsville Volunteer Fire Station was built in 1947. (Courtesy Google Street View)

A recommendation to remove career firefighters from the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Station has a lot of people upset.

At a community meeting Wednesday night, Prince George’s County Fire Chief Tiffany Green said an inspection of the station in December uncovered fire violations connected to adequate ways to get out of the building in case of an emergency, as well as possible cancer-causing contaminants and sewage issues. She’s suggesting pulling all county career firefighters from the building as early as February.

“The job that our firefighters and paramedics, both career and volunteer, do is very dangerous, and it is unacceptable to me that they have to work in unsafe conditions,” Green said.

Green says under the plan the 20 career fighters that rotate through Beltsville, would be temporarily relocated to other fire stations in Laurel and Calverton until repairs are made at the Beltsville station, which was built in 1947.

“We are not reducing services nor are we closing this station,” Green said. “We are temporarily relocating our personnel to ensure their safety.”

The plan is getting a lot of pushback from Beltsville area leaders and the public.

Maryland State Del. Mary Lehman spoke at the meeting asking Chief Green if the building is so unsafe, why she doesn’t order it be closed to career and volunteer firefighters. She also questioned the details of when the career firefighters would come back to the building after repairs are made

“The main concern I have is that if these paid staff leave this station, they may never come back,” she said.

That comment was met with lots of applause from the crowd.

Maryland State Del. Joseline Peña-Melnyk told the crowd she has concerns about the plan.

“You leave us exposed — and I mean ‘us’ because I am part of this community,” she said.

Margie Dickey, president of the Beltsville Volunteer Fire Station, said in October the fire station’s insurance company inspected the building and told her “there are no issues our company would deem as a critical item.”

Several community members expressed deep concern about the plan.

One woman, who did not identify herself, said “poor little old Beltsville which is unincorporated, which has no governmental structure of a mayor to advocate for us gets screwed once again in the end.”

Chief Green promised to address some of the concerns in two weeks and proposed more meetings and communication about the plan.

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Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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