New Md. fire & EMS department ready to begin hiring career members
Carroll County Fire & EMS Director Michael Robinson Sr. said he plans to hire up to 240 employees in the next two years
By Sherry Greenfield
Carroll County Times
CARROLL COUNTY, Md. — Carroll County's Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, which was officially established two years ago this month, is now ready to start hiring new career personnel, according to Director Michael Robinson Sr.
"Over the past year, the [department] has made significant progress to create infrastructure, policies and procedures and is now poised to begin hiring personnel, incrementally, who will deploy to fire stations in the next several months," Robinson said in a staff report he presented to the Board of Carroll County Commissioners Thursday.
"This will fulfill critical staffing needs for 13 of our 14 volunteer fire companies as we transition to county employees staffing these stations," he said.
The Harney Volunteer Fire Company in Taneytown will receive no new staffing, as it has no ambulances and a low call volume.
Robinson said he was preparing to hire up to 240 employees in the next two years.
"This will be implemented incrementally starting with the hiring of 12 lieutenants," Robinson stated, in an email after the meeting.
Robinson's plan will allow for 15 medic units to provide 24-hour staffing, seven days a week and at least one fire apparatus driver at all but the Harney station, he stated. Stations in Westminster, Sykesville and Mount Airy will also have lieutenants serving as a station supervisor, since they will have at least six staff on each of the four shifts.
"In addition, we will have a shift commander in an SUV who is responsible for countywide operations, and also a paramedic-equipped unit and two paramedic 'chase cars' that will respond with the transport medic units on critical care and high acuity calls, such as cardiac arrests, unconscious, heart attacks, serious motor vehicle crashes, severe trauma and other calls that would require two paramedics, due to complex patient care issues and decisions," Robinson stated.
The push to create a combination paid and volunteer county fire service began in Carroll County began more than a decade ago. In 2018, the Maryland General Assembly passed legislation allowing the county government to establish the new department and in October 2020, commissioners unanimously voted to pass an ordinance that created it.
Robinson secured the role of director in September 2021 and is charged with the overall direction, administration and evaluation of the department and has been planning policies and procedures since then.
Md. county commissioners OK $52K for medical director for new fire/EMS department
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine will do the hiring; officials said the partnership would include the use of hospital sites for training and cover liability costs
During the meeting Thursday there was also a great deal of discussion about overtime pay for newly hired career firefighters and EMS workers. The ordinance that created the new department states that time-and-a-half will be paid after a firefighter or paramedic works 212 hours in a 28-day work period.
"Federal Labor Standards Act allows employers to pay certain classes of employees [including firefighters and paramedics] overtime that differ from the traditional 40-hour per week employee," Robinson stated, in an email. "This meets the FLSA requirement."
But Commissioner Dennis Frazier, who represents District 3, said the overtime pay has to be better than what is written in the ordinance in order to attract new hires.
"I just think it has to be better," Frazier said. "We want to do this, we want to set up this force, we have to be competitive, with the [counties] around us that are trying to hire the exact same people. We want them to come to Carroll County. I think that's a major issue."
Robinson said a regular 28-day work cycle is 168 hours. Employees would need to work another 44 hours until they would be eligible for overtime pay.
Frazier argued that overtime should start after the 168 hours. "I don't think this is right, it's as simple as that," he said.
Commissioners' President Ed Rothstein, who represents District 5, said he had concerns about finding the money to offer overtime pay after 168 hours.
Commissioners made no decision on the overtime issue Thursday.
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