OC Police Commission May Add Fire Report

OCEAN CITY – Members of a resort commission this week continued a discussion on the need for fire department representation.

On Monday, members of the Ocean City Police Commission directed staff to explore the addition of fire department reports in the commission’s monthly meeting. Officials say the idea is to receive an update from the Ocean City Fire Department on staffing and service calls.

“I think the intent is for Chief [Richie] Bowers, or whoever the fire chief is, to come in and present us information so there aren’t any surprises like we’ve had in the past,” Council President Matt James, commission member, said. “It’s an avenue for him to share his concerns – not the union’s, not everybody else’s – and give us a brief update on operational items.”

In February, the Mayor and Council approved a $9.8 million contract for a new fire station on __ Street, but not before a lengthy debate on facility needs, personnel and budget impacts.

Immediately following the vote, IAFF 4269 President Ryan Whittington and Councilman Peter Buas said the conversations highlighted the need for fire department representation on a resort committee.

“I know I’ve brought it up a couple of times about the lack of representation on the commission from the fire department,” Buas said. “Perhaps at another work session I wouldn’t mind bringing up the idea of either adding a fire report to the police commission or public safety commission or something like that.”

At this week’s police commission meeting, officials revisited the topic. Buas questioned if the police commission should include fire department reports in its monthly meetings, or if the town should merge its police and fire prevention commissions.

“I think there was a question about merging the police commission with any fire safety …,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind having maybe a version of the fire prevention committee to start discussing staffing.”

For his part, James said he would like to see a monthly update, similar to the police activity and recruitment reports the police department submits to the commission. He said the fire chief could be in attendance.

Mayor Rick Meehan, however, shared his concerns.

“I think it needs to be very clear it’s not a forum for the extension of union discussions or activities,” he said.

Commission members said they wanted updates on staffing and service calls. City Solicitor Heather Stansbury said she and City Manager Terry McGean would consider the proposal.

“If that’s what you want to hear, about staffing and calls for service, we can get that to you in some form,” she said. “I just want to make sure it belongs in this meeting since this commission is set up by the charter.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.