December 14, 2021
To the citizens of Washington County:
As many of you are aware, the Washington County fire and EMS communitycontinues to work through the final Carter Lane report that looks at the events that occurred on June 29, 2021. This event resulted in injuries to 3 firefighters who were engaged in firefighting activities on the incident. The purpose of the investigative report was to help identify opportunities that could be considered to help prevent similar events from happening on future incidents.
“One important and clear takeaway from the report is that the system in Washington County is filled with dedicated volunteer and career staff whose primary goal is to provide the best service to the citizens that they serve. Our local volunteer fire and EMS community continues to remain embedded in its community and stands tirelessly ready to serve in any capacity necessary when called upon. Today is an opportunity to take a life lesson, learn from it, and make necessary changes to lessen the opportunity for a repeating event” said Emergency Services Director R. David Hays.
The Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association (WCVFRA) wants to assure the people of our county that our volunteers continue to consistently perform day in and day out, using their expertise and training provided by the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute (State of Maryland). As I have previously stated firefighting is an inherently dangerous endeavor.
“Clearly there should have been more support for the incident commander from everyone involved. This report does show that serious miscommunications occurred on this incident, which may be described as a perfect storm of various issues. It is an oversimplification to state that this could happen again anywhere in the county. There are over 10,000 incidents per year in which Washington County Volunteers participate and command. While changes need to be clarified so that this doesn’t happen again, a wholesale indictment of the system is not warranted, and the public can be assured that these issues will be addressed. The safety of the public and our firefighters and EMS providers is our paramount concern”, said Association President Dale Fishack.
County Leadership, the WCVFRA, and the Emergency Services Advisory Council (ESAC) have previously recognized several of the report’s recommendations and have been working on their implementation. One of the largest challenges involves the implementation of county career staffing that will help augment the volunteer responders; helping to ensure that adequate firefighter staffing is available to assist during emergency responses. This recommendation alone has been previously prioritized, authorized by the Board of County Commissioners, and funded in current budgets; with full implementation expected in 2022.
The Board of County Commissioners have also added additional volunteer incentives and programs that are intended to help reduce the financial burden on the volunteer companies and promote volunteer responses on fire and EMS incidents. Work continues to create strategies and policies that work to help ensure a sustainable service delivery model exists for the future of Washington County. The Carter Lane report and recommendations will assist in those efforts as we move forward while helping to validate and ensure that priority is given to enacting them. 
We appreciate the public’s support as the volunteer fire and EMS community in Washington County continues to serve its citizens. For questions or concerns, please contact us at the email addresses listed below.