HAGERSTOWN, MD (March 22, 2021) – Today marks a monumental day for public safety in Washington County, Maryland. The Washington County Division of Emergency Services
(DES) welcomes 31 cadets to the first Recruit Class for the inaugural Firefighter Academy. Over the next 10 weeks, DES will work closely with cadets, providing an opportunity for staff to identify strengths and for cadets to build team unity. Once cadets complete the academy, they will join the many volunteers to help augment these dedicated groups in their service to our communities. Together, these groups will continue to serve by ensuring the safety of our citizens and visitors throughout the County.
Washington County Division of Emergency Services Director David R. Hays stated, “Today represents one of the largest hiring initiatives for Washington County, and County Staff would never allow failure to be an option. I am immensely proud of each of these groups and just as appreciative of all the hard work that made today possible. I want to personally thank our entire Division of Emergency Services Team who have risen above every challenge presented to them to make today a reality. I would also like to personally thank the many other County Departments and their staff who have worked tirelessly to get us here.”
County Administrator John Martirano added, “I am very excited to welcome the inaugural class of the new Washington County Firefighter Training Academy. Working alongside the wonderful volunteers we are blessed to have in this County, I know this group will make a huge difference in the lives of our citizens.”
The 2021 Firefighter Academy is made possible by the SAFER grant, which was awarded to the Division of Emergency Services
in September 2020 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency
in the amount of $8,080,776. This amount is proposed to fund up to 33 firefighters over the next 3 years. As a recipient of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grants (SAFER) program, the funding will aid in reducing response times and enhancing firefighter and public safety throughout Washington County. When the new positions are filled, the Division of Emergency Services will staff 53 full-time and 25 part-time operational career firefighters.
Board of County Commissioner President Jeff Cline said, “Today more than ever public safety is of the utmost importance. The additional firefighters initially funded by the Safer Grant and enrolled in our training academy will be a tremendous asset in support of our volunteer emergency responders.”
“I would also like to thank our Board of County Commissioners, our current County Attorney and former interim County Administrator Kirk Downey and our current County Administrator, John Martirano for continuously supporting and providing funding for these new positions. It is only with the continued and unwavering support given to public safety by our elected leaders that we were able to move this initiative forward,” added Director Hays.
The firefighters hired under this grant will place three (3) firefighters on duty each day at four (4) strategically located volunteer fire stations throughout Washington County. The firefighters are intended to help augment our volunteer workforce by ensuring that dedicated staffing is available in various regions throughout the County.