Changes are needed.
That’s the consensus on the Ocean City fire service front.
Whether that means a new fire chief for the Ocean City Fire Department, other leadership changes, an independent analysis of operations or a combination is unclear at this time, but all indications are serious issues are plaguing the town’s emergency services. These concerns have been surfacing for several years.
On the heels of its Board of Directors taking a “no confidence” vote last week on OCFD Chief Chris Larmore, the Ocean City Volunteer Fire Company’s general membership voted 37-20 this week to support the board’s majority decision to no longer support Larmore.
These votes are a significant occurrence because there’s no precedent for this on the Ocean City fire service front.
It’s important to note this vote was made by the volunteers and not the union, which is comprised of paid firefighter/paramedics.
The union has been vocal with its concerns about the recent schedule change’s impact on their membership, a major manpower shortage costing the city in overtime expenses and questionable leadership decisions, such as the chief taking a vacation in the middle of the summer.
A part of the city’s Memorandum of Understanding provides the volunteer fire company the ability to speak directly to the Mayor and Council about their concerns. This needs to happen soon. We think Larmore should be in the room as well when this meeting takes place to allow the council to hear both sides of the issues. Having the chief present will also allow the council to determine if relations are beyond repair between him and his personnel and whether new leadership is needed. It’s clear the majority inside the fire houses would like to see a change. The council will need to make that call.
Communication will be key moving forward between the council, chief, administrators and the rank and file firefighters. A good place to start is an organized meeting of the minds because these concerns, which have led to low morale and manpower problems, have been mounting for years.