SALISBURY – The Wicomico County Council this week approved the formation of a workgroup that will look into a countywide fire service commission.
In an open work session Tuesday, Wayne Strausburg, director of administration, approached the council about forming a commission that would handle matters relating to certain county services.
“I think the question at hand is whether or not the executive and council believe that an appointed body should be created to advise them on pertinent matters relating to fire and EMS services in the county,” he said.
Strausburg explained that the proposed commission would handle matters related to budgets, funding, territories, employment, financial statements, performance metrics and the like. Commission members would act as an advisory board of sorts, consulting elected officials on such subjects as it pertains to fire and EMS services.
Strausburg said recent issues with certain fire companies have led officials to recognize a gap in protocol.
“I believe that the citizens of the county look to our elected leaders to ensure their safety and we don’t have a construct,” he said.
The idea, Strausburg said, was to take existing fire commission models from surrounding counties and use them in Wicomico County.
“There are a number of constructs across the state and across the country,” he told the council.
To form the commission, Strausburg suggested establishing a workgroup to do research and form recommendations on how the commission will be run.
Councilman Matt Holloway asked if most counties in Maryland had a fire commission.
Strausburg replied that most counties have a commission that operates in a similar capacity.
“It’s a mixed bag,” he said.
Councilman Joe Holloway asked Strausburg what would make the commission different from existing organizations.
“We have the chief’s association that pretty much acts in the same capacity,” he said. How will this commission be made up? I’m sure there would be some input from some of the fire companies.”
Though Strausburg had no concrete plans for how the commission would operate, he agreed that departments would be represented.
Councilman John Hall said he was in favor of forming an exploratory committee and, after further discussion, the council reached a consensus to form the workgroup, of which Strausburg will take the lead.
“I believe establishing a commission is deemed desirable and advisable,” Strausburg said.