OCEAN CITY – The next significant steps in the ongoing effort to merge the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company with the town’s career firefighters moved forward this week with the approval of an expanded training and certification program for all firefighters and a new home for the fire chief.
Ocean City Fire Chief Chris Larmore explained to the Mayor and Council this week an effort is underway to ensure all of the town’s firefighters under the umbrella of a single chief are trained and certified at the same levels. In the past, the career paid firefighters have been trained and certified in some areas and members of the volunteer company in others.
The difference in training has not been limited to the career firefighters and volunteers only, but also within each separate entity. For example, not all of the career firefighters have the same training and certifications as others, just as not all volunteers have the same training and certification as others.
Currently, an assessment is being taken of the level of training and certification of each firefighter, whether they are career or volunteer. The long-range plan is to make sure each member of the combined department is at the same level. Larmore acknowledged it will be an ambitious undertaking, but told the council it is necessary to ensure the level to the town is continued.
“The plan is to get everybody equally certified and trained,” he said. “This exceeds the goals of any fire department in the U.S. and proves how progressive the Ocean City department is.”
Larmore said the aggressive training program is an important step in the ongoing effort to combine the two departments.
“This is probably one of the most significant steps in establishing a combined service,” he said. “We have the luxury of being able to train and certify our own personnel through our training academy approved by the state.”
In a separate issue, Larmore told the council it was decided the best place to locate the chief’s office as well as the office of the fire marshal was on the second floor of the fire station on 15th Street.
The cost of converting the space, including walls, paint, trim, furniture, computers etc. would come in at around $25,000. Larmore explained the volunteer company has agreed to donate $10,000 as a show of good faith, but the remaining $15,000 would have to come from another source. In the end, it was decided to postpone the purchase of a piece of equipment for the fire company in order to provide the difference.