have experienced a significant increase in calls," said Schulz. "Calls
average about five per day. We are not only responsible to cover land mass,
but a portion of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries."
said in addition to protecting homes, businesses, marinas, and waterways,
new development in the county brings an increased risk of accidents occurring
on U.S. Route 50 and side streets.
do miss calls due to lack of staffing," Schulz said. "After a certain amount
of time has passed, the next due station is alerted to the call."
missing EMS calls, we have antiquated apparatus, we need more staffing,
our firehouse is inadequate, our aerial tower ladder truck failed inspection,"
said Les Adams, president of KIVFD.
of the KIVFD said to ensure fire and ambulance protection, additional revenues
are necessary. While other counties have created a fire tax to pay for
the costs of fire and ambulance services, no such tax exists in Queen Anne's
County. Much of the revenues collected by volunteer fire departments is
is beneficial to keep fire departments volunteer, for tax purposes," said
Roger Powell, attorney for the Maryland State Firemen's Association. "The
creation of a fire tax is an option I'm not particularly in favor of. We
pay enough taxes," said Schulz.
avoid the collection of revenues via a fire tax, members of the KIVFD requested
the Queen Anne's County Planning Commission to collect fees from developers
as a part of the planning approval process, however were met with legal
planning commission tells developers they can't come in because of this
or that, but they never say you can't come in because of inadequate fire
protection," said Tracy Schulz, KIVFD Fire Chief.
planning commission has asked their attorney for a legal position on approving
or denying projects based on volunteer fire department concerns over an
applicant," said J. Steven Kaii-Ziegler, planning director for the Queen
Anne's County Department of Planning and Zoning. "The attorney said they
can not deny or hold up projects until the developer is willing to give
a certain amount of money to fire departments."
carefully reviewing Title 18 of the Queen Anne's County Code, I am not
able to conclude that subdivision or site plan approval can be denied because
an appropriate donation to the affected volunteer fire company has not
been made. Similarly, I do not find that the planning commission can condition
subdivision or a site plan approval upon the applicant making a satisfactory
donation," wrote Christopher F. Drummond, in his capacity as counsel for
the county planning commission in a letter dated May 3.
developer is responsible for infrastructure improvements and a variety
of offsite improvements, however the volunteer fire department is a different
entity," said Kaii-Ziegler.
is the time to be planning for addressing the needs of the fire department,"
said J. Steven Cohoon, development review chief with county planning and
zoning. "To do that, the county is doing several things including a review
of the adequate public facilities ordinance, an impact fee study and an
emergency services study. In addition, the planning department has requested
the creation of a position for reviewing development plans for compliance
with state fire laws."
both the county and the volunteer fire companies acknowledge that the current
impact fee system with regard to emergency services is flawed," said Kaii-Ziegler.
"I believe we are collaboratively working together to resolve existing
problems and are producing a much superior long term product."
envisioned that impact fees relative to fire stations and apparatus would
be both collected and distributed by the existing fire districts," said
Kaii-Ziegler. The planning process will be "significantly improved in relation
to requiring new growth to pay for at least its fair share."
contractual fire code review person, in the form of fire protection engineer,
has been established with the adoption of the 2002 operating budget," said
Kaii-Ziegler. "It is my opinion that once the county is able to hire a
competent, trained fire codes plan reviewer (perhaps in the form of a fire
protection engineer) the existence of this person within the process would
satisfy many of the concerns expressed by the volunteer fire companies."
these tools are not designed to offset or resolve what apparently is a
significant existing deficiency," said Kaii-Ziegler. (According to Schulz,
shortfalls in volunteer donations create hardships on the fire station.
Only about 30 percent of residents in the KIVFD zone currently donate.)
When questioned about solutions to address existing deficiencies within
the fire department, Kaii-Ziegler said the county could help by "altering
the makeup to increase percentages of existing property taxes (by either
cutting into other services or increasing taxes) that could go to VFD",
or could "consider applying a fire tax."
said by the year 2005, growth on Kent Island will include about 600 new
residential units, 344,000 square feet of commercial/retail development,
50,000 square feet of church space, one new elementary school and 80 rental
apartments for seniors.
said additional development by the year 2005 is pending, including about
350 residential units, 255,600 square feet of commercial/retail development
and construction of a new middle school.
said most development will be take place between 2005 and 2010.
now we are in the midst of fundraising," said Jody Schultz. "We ask each
household for a $45.00 donation for EMS (ambulance) and for a $40 donation
for the fire department; that's about 23 cents per day to assure these
services are in place. If everyone would donate it would reduce the effort
on the part of the volunteers to spend so much time fundraising."
said KIVFD provides services from the tip of Love Point to the Sunny Isles
of Kent, just past Batt's Neck, and from the mid-point of the William Preston
Lane Memorial Bridge to the mid-point of the Kent Narrows Bridge and all
surrounding waters. They provide back-up to surrounding fire departments,
including Anne Arundel County.
next time you see a fire truck or an ambulance go by, instead of wondering
where they're going, think about the volunteers in it, the sacrifices they've
made; think about the people who left behind their family, job or a hot
meal to go out and assist a stranger in need," said Jody Schulz.
can be made to the KIVFD at P.O. Box 27, Stevensville, Md. 21666.